Big Sagebrush (Common Sagebrush)
Family: Asteraceae (A Utah Flora – Compositae) – Sunflower Family
Aromatic shrubs; 1.3' to 9.8' (4 to 30 dm) tall; stems 5.9”to 1.3' (1.5 to 4 dm) long
Leaves: alternate; simple; 0.2” to 2” (0.5 to 5 cm) long; usually 3-toothed (sometimes 4 or 5-toothed) at end of leaf; silvery grayish in color; has hairs
Flowers: corollas of cream colored to yellow disk flowers only; corollas are 0.08” to 0.12” (2 to 3 mm) and are funnelform and 5 toothed; 3 to 8 flowers per head; perfect; glandular; flower head appears to be a single flower, but is composed of several flowers (a composite)
Blooms in Arches National Park: August, September, October, November
Habitat in Arches National Park: desert shrub and pinyon-juniper communities
Location seen: Wolfe Ranch
Other: This genus is named for Artemisia, queen of Caria (ca 400 B.C.), a botanist and scholar, who might have been named for the Greek goddess Artemis. Caria is now a part of Turkey. The species name, “tridentata”, comes from the leaf's toothed end which usually has 3 lobes.
This species is a good browse plant and grows in very alkaline soils. It is nitrogen fixing. Sagebrush species are associated with mycorrhizal fungus in the genus Glomus which may be necessary for the successful establishment of sagebrush seedlings. Big sagebrush has the widest distribution of any North American shrub growing from Nebraska to California and from New Mexico to Montana.
This family is the most advanced and complex of the dicots. The family is rich in oils and resins and is found in every part of the world, but is infrequent in the tropical rainforest. Aquatic or semi-aquatic species are also uncommon.
Did You Know?
Once feared of becoming extinct, desert bighorn sheep are making a tentative comeback in southeast Utah due to reintroduction efforts by the National Park Service. There are roughly 50 sheep in Arches, though their shy nature keeps them well-hidden from most visitors. More...