Asteraceae Artemisia spinescens

Tiny yellow flowers that clump up to look like one bigger flower on a spiny green plant.

Artemisia spinescens

Synonym: Picrothamnus desertorum

Family: Asteraceae (A Utah Flora – Compositae) – Sunflower Family

Low shrubs; 1.97” to 1.6' (0.5 to 5 dm) tall; somewhat thorny; pungently aromatic

Leaves: alternate; the leaf blade is palmately 3 to 5 cleft; 0.16” to 0.8” (0.4 to 2 cm) long; very hairy

Flowers: corollas of disk flowers only - 5 to 13 disk flowers; flower head appears to be a single flower, but is composed of several flowers (a composite). The flower heads are yellow and hairy and made up of 6 to 20 small flowers or more.

Pollinators: other Artemisia species are pollinated by wind

Fruits: achene (hairy) – 1 seeded with hard shell

Blooms in Arches National Park: March, April, May

Habitat in Arches National Park: desert shrub and pinyon-juniper communities in silty, clayey, or gravelly substrates (often saline)

Location seen: Park Avenue, Delicate Arch road or Delicate Arch trail, Cache Valley, Sand Dune Arch, Broken Arch

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 genus name, “Picrothamnus”, comes from “picro” which means “bitter” and “thamnus” which means “a shrub”. The species name, “spinescens”, means “becoming spiny”. The species name, “desertorum”, means “of the deserts”.

Budsage has small seeds - approximately 641,250 seeds per ounce (2,250 per gram), and germination is low. It has very poor dispersal partly because the seed lacks appendages for airborne transport by the wind or for attachment to animals. Most seeds fall beneath the parent plant and move a maximum of 3 feet (0.91m) per generation. Flower heads fall from the plant intact without breaking apart to release the seeds and sometimes the seed germinates while still in the head.

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.

Last updated: November 26, 2021

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 907
Moab , UT 84532


435 719-2299

Contact Us

Stay Connected