Can tortoises eat hummingbird sage?

dawsonpan

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Hey everyone! I recently got a hummingbird sage plant (Salvia Spathacea) for a native CA garden and I'm wondering if tortoises can eat it. I can't seem to find any sources online that specifically mentions it. The Tortoise Table lists regular sage (Salvia officinalis) as ok in moderation and Russian sage (Perovskia Atriplicifolia) is feed sparingly, and mentions other salvia species as feed sparingly but no salvia spathacea. Also I read that hummingbird sage can be made into a tea so its edible in a way. So any recommendations are gladly accepted :) Thanks!!!

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RosemaryDW

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Russian sage is not a true sage/salvia so they aren’t comparable.

I can’t say I agree with the Tortoise Table’s statement about possibility toxicity. Much of their info is based on mammal research, not actual tortoises. Very little research has been done on tortoise diet, so far anyway.

I can say I have this sage in my own native Ca garden and my Russian won’t touch it or the two other sages out there. Like most plants in this family (mint, oregano, thyme, etc.) the smell is too strong to be appealling. A very hungry tortoise would eat it but that’s probably it. At any rate, it’s not harmful.

She will eat Island snapdragon, Tacoma stans, desert evening primrose, yarrow, pink buckwheat, and some other natives I’m not remembering offhand.

Evening primrose is basically tortoise crack so you might not plant that unless you are ready to watch them get mowed down. I didn’t get a single blossom this year before she ate most of the plants to the ground (not even two weeks past coming out of hibernation). I would say the snapdragon is the second favorite but as it’s shrubby it’s harder for her to get at/destroy. She loves, loves, loves buttercup as well but the one year I planted it she ate it all within two days so we won’t be planting it again! Our Russian lives outdoors and is a very good eater so your mileage may vary.

Edit, I’ve already thought of more! wild strawberry (decimated); Catalina perfume bush (trampled); and heuchera (I believe last year it was both eaten and trampled). We basically spent thousands of dollars planting a tortoise buffet. Maybe you should ONLY plant sages. Or weeds, they’re cheap! :)
 

dawsonpan

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Russian sage is not a true sage/salvia so they aren’t comparable.

I can’t say I agree with the Tortoise Table’s statement about possibility toxicity. Much of their info is based on mammal research, not actual tortoises. Very little research has been done on tortoise diet, so far anyway.

I can say I have this sage in my own native Ca garden and my Russian won’t touch it or the two other sages out there. Like most plants in this family (mint, oregano, thyme, etc.) the smell is too strong to be appealling. A very hungry tortoise would eat it but that’s probably it. At any rate, it’s not harmful.

She will eat Island snapdragon, Tacoma stans, desert evening primrose, yarrow, pink buckwheat, and some other natives I’m not remembering offhand.

Evening primrose is basically tortoise crack so you might not plant that unless you are ready to watch them get mowed down. I didn’t get a single blossom this year before she ate most of the plants to the ground (not even two weeks past coming out of hibernation). I would say the snapdragon is the second favorite but as it’s shrubby it’s harder for her to get at/destroy. She loves, loves, loves buttercup as well but the one year I planted it she ate it all within two days so we won’t be planting it again! Our Russian lives outdoors and is a very good eater so your mileage may vary.

Edit, I’ve already thought of more! wild strawberry (decimated); Catalina perfume bush (trampled); and heuchera (I believe last year it was both eaten and trampled). We basically spent thousands of dollars planting a tortoise buffet. Maybe you should ONLY plant sages. Or weeds, they’re cheap! :)
Oh my goodness lol. Such a fast eater, they really do have ferocious appetites. Our newly planted enclosures experience that same decimation too. 😂 And our sulcatas are the perfect lawnmowers lol

I'll definitely take that into consideration then. I don't want this plant to be decimated either, just to be on the safe side do you think a small non-see through fence could work? But if the plant wasn't touched then I guess it can be worth a try 😅. Thanks you so much for such a detailed and information filled reply!!!
 

RosemaryDW

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Many of our plants are fenced off these days. Last year my husband used some kind of heavy metal screen but this year put up “fancy” looking barriers. I told them they were just going to be jungle gyms but he persisted. Here is the one I was most concerned about as I felt it was too low. This picture was taken at twelve thirty the day she came out of hibernation. He made it just narrow enough that she got stuck in it as well; can’t see much of the plant left, can you? lol

3553AB8C-D08E-47C5-838F-EF6F3711A3B3.jpeg


But if your sage is already established at a good size I don’t think I would fence it. Our sages aren’t attractive as shade plants, in addition to not being tasty, so they are some of the safest plants in our yard. Might not hurt to have some fencing ready though if your tortoise likes herbs, the stems on that plant seem a bit fragile to me; wouldn’t take much to knock one down. Maybe you could buy some culinary sage at the grocery store to see if your tortoise is interested it before you let him out there?

It’s not whether it’s see-thru, it’s simply how strong it is and whether the tortoise can get leverage on it. Our tortoise reached a size last year where she could simply put her weight on what we were using and push through/over it. This year’s stuff is is sunk well into the ground so it should be less “pushable“ although I still don’t have much hope.

Good luck! It really is a beautiful sage. We planted with an eye toward attracting birds and finally got our first hummingbird nest this year.
 

dawsonpan

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Location (City and/or State)
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Many of our plants are fenced off these days. Last year my husband used some kind of heavy metal screen but this year put up “fancy” looking barriers. I told them they were just going to be jungle gyms but he persisted. Here is the one I was most concerned about as I felt it was too low. This picture was taken at twelve thirty the day she came out of hibernation. He made it just narrow enough that she got stuck in it as well; can’t see much of the plant left, can you? lol

View attachment 321856


But if your sage is already established at a good size I don’t think I would fence it. Our sages aren’t attractive as shade plants, in addition to not being tasty, so they are some of the safest plants in our yard. Might not hurt to have some fencing ready though if your tortoise likes herbs, the stems on that plant seem a bit fragile to me; wouldn’t take much to knock one down. Maybe you could buy some culinary sage at the grocery store to see if your tortoise is interested it before you let him out there?

It’s not whether it’s see-thru, it’s simply how strong it is and whether the tortoise can get leverage on it. Our tortoise reached a size last year where she could simply put her weight on what we were using and push through/over it. This year’s stuff is is sunk well into the ground so it should be less “pushable“ although I still don’t have much hope.

Good luck! It really is a beautiful sage. We planted with an eye toward attracting birds and finally got our first hummingbird nest this year.
Dang lol 😂 went right in and ate it all eh? Russians are truly the best climbers :tort:I'll see for some kind of more "sturdy" and higher fence if that's the case. It's all worth a try right? The hummingbird sage is only one plant as of now, the rhizomes haven't started to come out yet so I think I will wait longer lol. I've planted some culinary sage from seed and it's growing little by little, very fast germinators. I didn't exactly think twice about spacing but I assume as the plant bushes, it can work itself out 😅.

Oh wow! So nice to have bird nests in the yard, that's amazing. They're so small and adorable lol. Our area has a lot of hummingbirds so I thought this plant would be a good addition to the garden, considering its native and really stunning.

This is the small little sage plants that are growing (A lot longer before they can be planted anywhere lol):
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