Nature’s Notebook

Connecting People with Nature to Benefit Our Changing Planet

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Photo for species Artemisia_tridentata

Artemisia tridentata is one of the most widespread shrubs in North America. It is an important browse for wildlife, and food for birds, sometimes making up 100% of a species’ diet during winter. It also is valuable for its cover and thermal properties for many birds. The bark is used by Native Americans for ropes and baskets, as a smudge herb (burnt as incense), leaves powdered for rashes, and other medicinal uses. Sagebrush is Nevada’s state flower.

Photo Credit:
© Howard F. Schwartz, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org.

Artemisia tridentata

big sagebrush
What does this species look like?
What does this species look like?: 

Big sagebrush is an evergreen, perennial shrub usually growing to 4 feet tall but ranging between 1.3 to15 tall. Numerous flowers occur along many stalks on the upper part of the plant. The cream-colored to yellow flowers are small and not very showy and each flower contains both male and female parts. Flowering begins when the plants mature at 2 to 3 years of age and the flowers are wind or self-pollinated.

Big sagebrush is a somewhat drought tolerant plant. It grows on a variety of soil types on arid plains, valleys, foothills, and mountains.

Why observe this species?

Big sagebrush is a USA-NPN regional plant species. Regional species are ecologically or economically important but are distributed more locally than calibration species. The NPN integrates these observations to understand better plant responses within the different geographic regions of the nation. In addition, this species is an allergen. Observations on its phenology will provide valuable information to benefit people with allergies and the public health community.

Where is this species found?
States & Provinces: 
AB, AZ, BC, CA, CO, ID, MA, MT, ND, NE, NM, NV, OR, SD, UT, WA, WY
Which phenophases should I observe?
Leaves

Do you see...?

Young leaves
One or more young, unfolded leaves are visible on the plant. A leaf is considered "young" and "unfolded" once its entire length has emerged from a breaking bud, stem node or growing stem tip, so that the leaf stalk (petiole) or leaf base is visible at its point of attachment to the stem, but before the leaf has reached full size or turned the darker green color or tougher texture of mature leaves on the plant. Do not include fully dried or dead leaves.

How many young leaves are present?

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;1,001 to 10,000;More than 10,000

Leaves
One or more live, unfolded leaves are visible on the plant. A leaf is considered "unfolded" once its entire length has emerged from a breaking bud, stem node or growing stem tip, so that the leaf stalk (petiole) or leaf base is visible at its point of attachment to the stem. Do not include fully dried or dead leaves.

What percentage of the canopy is full with leaves? Ignore dead branches in your estimate.

Less than 5%;5-24%;25-49%;50-74%;75-94%;95% or more

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Flowers

Do you see...?

Flowers or flower buds
One or more fresh open or unopened flowers or flower buds are visible on the plant. Include flower buds that are still developing, but do not include wilted or dried flowers.

How many flowers and flower buds are present? For species in which individual flowers are clustered in flower heads, spikes or catkins (inflorescences), simply estimate the number of flower heads, spikes or catkins and not the number of individual flowers.

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;1,001 to 10,000;More than 10,000

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Open flowers
One or more open, fresh flowers are visible on the plant. Flowers are considered "open" when the reproductive parts (male stamens or female pistils) are visible between or within unfolded or open flower parts (petals, floral tubes or sepals). Do not include wilted or dried flowers.

What percentage of all fresh flowers (buds plus unopened plus open) on the plant are open? For species in which individual flowers are clustered in flower heads, spikes or catkins (inflorescences), estimate the percentage of all individual flowers that are open.

Less than 5%;5-24%;25-49%;50-74%;75-94%;95% or more

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Pollen release
One or more flowers on the plant release visible pollen grains when gently shaken or blown into your palm or onto a dark surface.

How much pollen is released?

Little: Only a few grains are released.;Some: Many grains are released.;Lots: A layer of pollen covers your palm, or a cloud of pollen can be seen in the air when the wind blows

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Fruits

Do you see...?

Fruits
One or more fruits are visible on the plant. For Artemisia tridentata, the fruit is very tiny and seed-like and is crowded into a tiny spent flower head. The seed-like fruit changes from whitish-yellow or yellow-green to tannish and drops from the plant. Do not include empty flower heads that have already dropped all of their fruits.

How many fruits are present?

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;1,001 to 10,000;More than 10,000

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Ripe fruits
One or more ripe fruits are visible on the plant. For Artemisia tridentata, a fruit is considered ripe when it has turned tannish and readily drops from the spent flower head when touched. Do not include empty flower heads that have already dropped all of their fruits.

What percentage of all fruits (unripe plus ripe) on the plant are ripe?

Less than 5%;5-24%;25-49%;50-74%;75-94%;95% or more

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Recent fruit or seed drop
One or more mature fruits or seeds have dropped or been removed from the plant since your last visit. Do not include obviously immature fruits that have dropped before ripening, such as in a heavy rain or wind, or empty fruits that had long ago dropped all of their seeds but remained on the plant.

How many mature fruits have dropped seeds or have completely dropped or been removed from the plant since your last visit?

Less than 3;3 to 10;11 to 100;101 to 1,000;1,001 to 10,000;More than 10,000

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