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Artemisia tridentata

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About Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) Also known by the names Common Sagebrush, Blue/Black Sagebrush or Mountain Sagebrush, it is a shrub or small tree from the family Asteraceae. It is a coarse, hardy silvery-grey bush with inconspicuous yellow-green flowers and grows in arid sections of the western United States and Western Canada. It is the primary vegetation across vast areas of the Great Basin desert and is an indicator species for high desert (above 1,500 ft.). Like others in this genus, it has highly aromatic foliage. Unlike some others of this genus, it develops a true woody trunk and branches. In maturity the twisted trunk can become picturesque and suitable for bonsai treatment. Along rivers or in other relatively wet areas, sagebrush can grow as tall as 3 meters (10 feet), but is more typically 1-2 meters tall.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
3 - 15 ft (0.9 - 4.6 m)

Max. Width
10 ft (3.0 m)

Upright, Rounded

Fragrant - Pleasant

Growth Rate
Moderate, Slow


Flower Color
Yellow, Cream, White, Green

Flowering Season

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Dry valleys, canyons and slopes typically on the east slope of mountain ranges


Elevation ?
53' - 14200'

Annual Precip. ?
3.8" - 85.2"

Summer Precip. ?
0.12" - 4.47"

Coldest Month ?
17.4° F - 56.0° F

Hottest Month ?
38.7° F - 80.7° F

Humidity ?
0.38 vpd - 33.62 vpd

Soil Description
Prefers coarse, well drained soil such as decomposed granite

Soil PH
6.0 - 8.5

Fast, Medium

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to -10° F

Wildlife Attracted
Numerous insects, birds and small mammals are attracted to the flowers and seeds

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

Water Requirement ?
Extremely Low, Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Moderately Popular

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water, 1x/month
No Summer Water
Keep moist


Propagation ?
Stratified seeds or cuttings.  For propagating by seed: 3-3.5 mos. stratification (USDA Forest Service 1974); 10 wks. may be sufficient (Stidham et al. 1980).

Common uses
Bank Stabilization, Groundcovers, Hedges, Deer Resistant, Bird Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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