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California Sagebrush
Artemisia californica
About California Sagebrush (Artemisia californica) Nurseries Show All Photos California sagebrush, of the Asteraceae family, is a highly aromatic shrub that grows in coastal sage scrub, coastal strand, chaparral, and dry foothill communities, from sea level to 1000 meters (3300 feet). It is native to California and Baja California. The plant branches from the base and grows out from there, becoming rounded. Plant height varies significantly, ranging from low growing forms as little as.3 meters (1 foot) tall up to towering forms of up to 2.5 meters (8 feet) tall. The stems of the plant are slender, flexible, and smooth (hairless) or canescent (fuzzy). The leaves range from one to 10 centimeters long and are divided with 2-4 threadlike lobes less than five centimeters long. Their leaves are hairy and light green to gray in color; the margins of the leaves curl under. The flower clusters are leafy, narrow, and sparse. The pistillate flowers range in number from 6 to 10 and the disk flowers range from 15 to 30, and they are generally yellowish in appearance, but sometimes red. The fruits produced are resinous achenes up to 1.5 millimeters long.

This plant is extremely drought tolerant, and will often be the only plant growing on the driest, south-facing slopes in the driest parts of it's range. It's tough and easy to grow, fast growing up to 3 feet tall. It can handle occasional summer water, or no water at all during the summer. It can get weedy, but its foliage is a beautiful silvery color when backlit by the sun. This is one of the foundation plants of the coastal sage scrub community and the preferred plant of the California gnatcatcher, a threatened species. There are several selections available for the garden, some of which can be used as groundcovers.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
1 - 8 ft (0.3 - 2.4 m)

Max. Width
4 ft (1.2 m)

Mounding, Rounded, Spreading

Fragrant - Pleasant

Growth Rate

Summer Deciduous

Tiny, very fragrant, bright green to grey-green in color when adequate moisture is present, rapidly turning grey-brown as the soil dries.

Flower Color
Cream, White, Yellow

Flowering Season
Spring, Summer, Fall

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Dry slopes and flats, often south facing.


Elevation ?
-22' - 4748'

Annual Precip. ?
3.4" - 63.5"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 1.67"

Coldest Month ?
39.8° F - 59.4° F

Hottest Month ?
57.7° F - 87.8° F

Humidity ?
0.29 vpd - 38.63 vpd

Soil Description
Usually found on very dry slopes or sandy soil with low nutrient content, although it is also said to tolerate clay

Soil Texture

Soil PH
5.0 - 8.0

Fast, Medium, Slow

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 20° F

Sunset Zones ?
7, 8, 9, 14*, 15*, 16*, 17*, 18*, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24*

Companion Plants
Black Sage, White Sage, California Encelia, Chamise, Coyote Brush, California Buckwheat, Sticky Monkeyflower, Woolly Bluecurls, Scrub Oaks, Toyon, Lemonadeberry, Yucca spp, various cactus species

Wildlife Attracted
California Gnatcatcher, Quail, various other birds, insects

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Very Easy

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

Seldom Used

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water
No Summer Water
Keep moist

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

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
Coast Sagebrush, Coastal Sage Brush, Coastal Sagebrush

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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