Sagebrush

Sagebrush (genus Artemisia), bitter, aromatic plant or shrub of the family Compositae or Asteraceae. They include annual, biennial and perennial plants. More than 100 species are known, chiefly from arid regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Fifteen species are native to Canada; 7 others are introduced (2 European, 4 Eurasian and one from Aleutian Islands).

The greatest variety of native sagebrushes occurs in the western mountains, where species that range from Alaska to California and Colorado are found. Several species range across the prairies and 2 species are transcontinental in Canada. Sagebrushes grow on dry plains, hills and rocky slopes.

Flower clusters, aggregations of heads that are usually loose and nodding and sometimes spikelike, appear in summer and autumn. Each head is a disc of few or many tubular florets. Fruit is small, hard and dry. Many sagebrushes are highly variable, and hybridization occurs freely. The genus includes wormwoods and tarragon. The common name derives from the characteristic, sagelike odour, and the genus is named for the Persian Queen of Caria, Artemisia.

See also PLANTS, NATIVE USES.