To understand patterns of species diversity distribution and speciation mechanisms for Salvia (Lamiaceae) plants, we queried species names and specimen collection information from the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), The Plant List, Chinese Virtual Herbarium (CVH), Specimen Resources Sharing Platform for Education, Specimen Resources Sharing Platform of Chinese Nature Reserves as well as collection information for Salvia spp. specimens preserved in 32 Chinese herbaria. Based on these collection data, we analyzed the distributional patterns and plotted distribution maps at the country and geographic regional level (e.g. the Hengduan Mountains, Qinling Mountains, Wuling Mountains, Nanling Mountains, Dabie Mountains, and Tianmu-Huangshan Mountains), respectively. Additionally, the records from Yunnan and Sichuan provinces of China were obtained at the county level. In total our sample consisted of 57,674 global distributional records and 11,596 Chinese records, and 952 accepted names of Salvia were confirmed. Globally, Central and South America (510 species) support the largest number of species, followed by West Asia (270 species), Europe (117 species), East Asia (97 species) and North America (94 species). At the national level, Mexico supports the largest number of species (322), followed by Russia (109), Turkey (88), the United States (85) and China (82). Within China, Yunnan and Sichuan provinces support a substantially larger number of species than other provinces, accounting for 63% of the total number of Salvia species in China. The three counties within Yunnan and Sichuan provinces that contain the largest number of species are Yulong (23), Shangri-la (20), Dali (13), and Muli (17), Baoxing (13) and Mabian (13). The Hengduan Mountains, with 52.8% of all Salvia species in China, contain more Salvia species than any other region in China; 23 species are endemic to this area with narrow distributions. Native Chinese Salvia species were divided into four abundance ranks based on the number of county-level records: S. plebeia ranked the highest (395 distribution counties), followed by S. japonica (199 counties), S. miltiorrhiza (192 counties), S. cavaleriei (173 counties), S. chinensis (153 counties), and S. roborowskii (100 counties). Our results indicate that Salvia is mainly distributed in temperate and subtropical high-altitude countries of the northern hemisphere; China is the center of diversity in East Asia, containing representative and narrow-range endemic species. Within China, the Hengduan Mountains have the highest species diversity and percentage of endemic species.