by Scott McKenna, Native
Common Names: Big sagebrush, blue sagebrush
Synonymy: (threetip sagebrush). Threetip sagebrush is
smaller, has leaves that are deeply cleft into three narrow, linear divisions.
Etymology: The epithet tridentata, refers to the 3-toothed
Growth form: Big sagebrush is a rounded deciduous shrub to 3m.
tall. With silvery-green leaves.
Roots: The root system is fiberous.
Stem: Short, thick trunk or several branches from the
Leaves: Leaves of vegetative shoots are sessile or on
short petiole, cuneate with 3 blunt teeth at the apex, 1-4 cm. long and
about 2-12mm. wide. Are silver-green in color, alternate, solitary or
in groups, hairy on both sides.
Inflorescence/flowers: Flower head consists of 3-15,
all perfect and fertile, tubular flowers. Corollas 2-3mm. long, flower
heads mostly erect on branches 15-40 cm. long, involucres 3-4mm. long,
and 8-15 phylleries.
Fruit: Fruit are perfect, seed-producing. Seeds are small,
hairless, cylindrical, top-shaped with 4-5 angles or ribs.
Similar species: Artemisia arbuscula. A.
arbuscula has a much smaller growth form and grows much closer to
Life history: Perennial shrub.
Photosynthetic pathway: C3
Distribution: British Columbia to South Dakota, south
to New Mexico and Baja California. In Arizona, found in all counties except
Yavapai at 5000-8000 feet.
Forage: An Abundant source of feed for goat and sheep, especially
for winter grazing.
Medicinal: The Spanish used the leaves of Artemisia tridentata
as a cure for rhumtism, headaches, croup, chest pains, common cold, and
1. W.B. Mcdougall. 1973.
Seed Plants of Northern Arizona. Museum of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff.
2. U.S. Department of
Agriculture Forest Service. 1988. Range Plant Handbook. Dover Publications
Inc. New York,NY.