According to the USDA PLANTS database, chia is naturalized (grows wild) in Florida, Texas and New York. More information is available at the link. The New York occurrence has to be an error. More research is needed.
In parts of Mexico and Central America, chia appears in traditional Easter Week celebrations.
This past Friday, March 26th, was Viernes de Dolores, the Friday of Sorrows, which marks the beginning of Easter Week, or Holy Week. The day commemorates the seven sorrows of the mother of Christ. Temporary altars and displays are set up in the streets, usually featuring an image or statue of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores surrounded by flowers, and a variety of traditional items: candles, oranges, bowls of colored water, corn seedlings, and chia sprouts. According to this article, the chia seeds are blessed at the beginning of Lent.
Sprouted sage seeds blessed on February 2, have also long been associated with the celebration of Our Lady of Sorrows. Growing greens remind the viewer of the resurrection and renewal of life. These sprouting sage seeds are also known as chia, the seeds traditionally sprouted in the grooves of clay animals, figures and pots.
From: bjh Sent: Thursday, January 21, 2010 2:52 PM To: mvc Subject: Hello Margaret
am a Family Practitioner from South
Carolina and have been studying and using chia in my
practice for almost a year now. I ran across your web site this past
Monday and have found it extremely helpful and fun.
was wondering about the growth of Chia in areas outside of the Southwest.
I don't think there have been any successes, but just wanted to pose the
question????? My husband is a horticulturist. Two friends have been
able to grow the plant, but weren't able to get seed production.
have been extremely impressed with these seeds and have seen some very good
My colleague Ann, in Knoxville, Tennessee, has also been trying to grow chia. She wrote me on November 30:
I think I won't get any seeds from my experiment this year. The Salba plants and the S. hispanica seeds
(white & blue flrs., respectively) have bloomed madly and I can see seeds
forming, but the forecast is for a night in the 20s by the end of the week with
chilly but not freezing weather until then. A couple of light frosts have
withered some leaves in the past week. The plants grew HUGE, with plants nearest the street bowing
into the street area.
Chrysanthemums and Christmas cactus are other examples of plants that
are triggered to flower only at that time of year when the nights are
long and days are short, in the fall and winter. For plants growing in the tropics and subtropics, day-length can still play a
role in flowering, but since frost is not an issue, the life cycle can be completed
during the winter months.
I have heard that scientists are trying to breed chia that is not daylength sensitive so that it can be grown in temperate zones.
In the meantime, I have a suggestion. Try growing a different species of chia: Salvia tiliifolia(Tarahumara chia). This is an attractive, fairly weedy plant that will self sow in northern climates. It is also the same chia plant that is used in iskiate by the famous long-distance runners, the Tarahumara people of Copper Canyon.
You can buy it here:
My friend, Dave recently grew some here on Long Island, so I'm sure you can grow it in South Carolina!
. . .and other "Chia Sculptures and Interventions" by artist, Jeff Schmuki.
He says, "Using Chia in my work has created another means of engaging the public.The novelty of the Chia Pet™ and the nutritious and easily grown Chia super-grain inspires projects that utilize Chia as both an art form and a sustainable food source.Creating soil-less works which employ Chia, as well as other food plants, allows me to demonstrate the benefits offered by hydroponics.These benefits include an increases in crop yields, lower water usage, as well as the fact that hydroponics can be used in places* where ordinary agriculture or gardening is impossible."
For those who are interested in growing chia in their home gardens, this website provides some useful information.
Plants for A Future is a British not-for-profit that maintains a wonderful, carefully researched database of useful plants. It seems to be affiliated with the permaculture movement. Its readers are knowledgeable, so the comments are often quite useful.
Unfortunately, the organization seems to have fallen on hard times and is "selling the farm." I hope that some other organization can step in to preserve the valuable information that's on this website.
There is a lot of chatter about sprouting Chia. Personally I love the sprouts when we are playing with the kids showing them how things grow. I think I've read from you as well as others that many of the nutritional properties of the seed are lost due to the energy that is required for the seed itself to sprout. On the other hand I believe that there is a higher enzyme activity level due to the "greener" nature of the living seed.
Can you please let me know if these companies that are writing about the incremental benefits - nutritionally - on sprouted seeds like Chia and Flax are real?
Many thanks for any assistance you can provide.
On Thu, Dec 18, 2008 at 5:20 PM, Margaret Conover wrote:
Basically, this article provides evidence that sprouting does not improve the nutritional value of most seeds in any significant way.
The dietary fiber is part of the seed coat. Because the chia seed coat becomes mucilaginous and sticky, it is left behind, stuck to the sprouting medium, when the seedling spouts. The omega-3s, I believe, are metabolized as fuel for the growth of the seedling. This would leave you with neither fiber nor omega-3s.
The Ord Valley in Western Australia has become a prime area for growing chia seed. In the next growing season, it is anticipated that this area will produce 2/3 of the world's chia seed. Here's a link to an Australian chia seed producer: The Chia Company.
If you have 9 minutes and are interested in how chia is grown and harvested, this video from Benexia has some interesting footage (set to a new age soundtrack). Unfortunately, the video quality is poor.
And many Salvia species are cultivated for their attractive flowers and foliage. Visit Robin's Salvias for some wonderful photos and great information about growing Salvias.
Salvia divinorum is the only species of Salvia known to have any psychoactive properties. Its use is still legal in the United States. This website and this Wikipedia article are good sources of information about this plant and its uses.
Fortunately for us, chia seeds don't look at all like these seeds of Salvia divinorum.