Sagebrush (Artemesia) is one of the most common plants in the western US. It is in no way related to sage (Salvia), but it has a similar odor (both plants produce this odor to discourage herbivores from eating them). Sagebrush is actually in the Aster family, with daisies, sunflowers, etc. The most common form of sagebrush in the Western US is Big Sagebrush (Artemesia tridentata) which is charactarized by its three-pointed, blue-green leaves. Sometimes soft, spongy round galls are found on this plant as well; these are not fruits but are caused by insects. 'Big sagebrush' is usually a small shrub but I've seen old ones up to 6 feet tall.

Sagebrush prefers cold, dry areas, such as the eastern Sierras, the White Mountains, and the plains of Nevada and Wyoming. It is native to the area, unlike the tumbleweed, which is from Russia. In some cases, invasive grasses such as brome have invaded sagebrush areas, and have altered the fire regime and reduced the original sagebrush cover. However, the plant still covers vast areas of land where almost nothing else is found.

Sage"brush` (?), n.

A low irregular shrub (Artemisia tridentata), of the order Compositae, covering vast tracts of the dry alkaline regions of the American plains; -- called also sagebush, and wild sage.

 

© Webster 1913.

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