sagebrush

sagebrush, name for several species of Artemisia, deciduous shrubs of the family Asteraceae (aster family), particularly abundant in arid regions of W North America. The common sagebrush ( A. tridentata ), called also big sagebrush, is a silvery-gray low shrub with a pungent odor of sage, although it is unrelated to the true sage. It is one of the most common shrubs of the West, where it is important as a forage plant on many cattle ranges and is often indicative of good soil. This species has been employed as a domestic remedy and tonic, and the seeds were used for food by Native Americans. The wood ignites easily and burns well so that it has been valuable for starting fire by friction. Sagebrush is the state flower of Nevada, which is sometimes called the Sagebrush State. The pasture, or mountain, sagebrush ( A. frigida ) has also been used medicinally. It is native both to Siberia and to North America, from Alaska to Texas. The word sagebrush is often shortened to sage. Other species of Artemesia include tarragon, wormwood, and the plants yielding santonin. Sagebrush is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Asterales, family Asteraceae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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