Plants perennial. Stems robust, ca. 1 m. Leaves 1- (or 2)-pinnate, 10-20 cm, 5(-7)-foliolate; petiole 4-6 cm, concave-convex, retrorse villous or densely spreading bristly; terminal leaflet ovate-lanceolate, 4-7.5 × 2-4.5 cm, herbaceous, glabrous, finely pilose on veins, margin crenate-serrate or serrate, apex acuminate to caudate-acuminate; lateral leaflets smaller. Inflorescences densely glandular villous; verticillasters 8- to many flowered, in terminal racemes or panicles 14-30 cm; bracts lanceolate, 3-4 × ca. 1 mm, margin entire, ciliate. Pedicel ca. 4 mm. Calyx tubular, 8-10 mm, glandular pilose, pubescent, white bristly at throat inside, 2-lipped to ca. 1/4 its length; upper lip broadly triangular, ca. 2 × 5 mm, apex ± 3-mucronate; lower lip triangular, ca. 1.5 × 4 mm, apex shallowly 2-toothed. Corolla purple to blue-purple, 1.9-2.4 cm, puberulent; tube obliquely hairy annulate, gradually dilated at apex, to 7 mm wide at throat; upper lip slightly falcate, 0.8-1.2 cm × ca. 5 mm; lower lip oblong, ca. 1.1 × 1.2 cm; middle lobe obcordate, ca. 3 × 6 mm. Filaments ca. 4 mm; connectives ca. 1.9 cm; upper arms to 1.5 cm, lower arms ca. 4 mm. Nutlets brown, ellipsoid, ca. 3 mm, apex hairy. Fl. Mar-Jul.
Salvia bowleyana (in Chinese: nan dan shen, nan-dan-shen) is a perennial plant that is native to China, south of the Yangtze River, growing on hillsides, streamsides, forests, and valleys between 30 to 9,600 metres (98 to 31,496 ft) elevation. It is used medicinally in China in the same way as Salvia miltiorrhiza and is often confused with it. Salvia miltiorrhiza's common name is "dan shen", while S. bowleyana's is "nan dan shen", which means "southern dan shen".
Salvia bowleyana grows up to 1 metre (3.3 ft) tall, with flowers that are purple to purple-blue.