By Judi Buckley, Native Plants Class

By Judi Buckley, Native Plants Class


by Judi Buckley, Native Plants Class

Common Names: White Sagebrush, Western Mugwort, Louisiana Sagewort

Family : Asteraceae


Etymology: The name Artemisia refers to Artemis, Greek goddess of hunt and forest who so benefited from plants of this family that she gave it her own name.


Growth Form: Rhizomatous, aromatic, white-woolly perennial forb. 30 - 80 cm tall, often forming large patches.

Roots: Extensive mat forming root system

Stem: Several to many erect rigid stems 12-36 inches tall with leafy spike like branches. Branched upward and clustered from creeping rhizomes.

Leaves: Variable in populations depending on location. From narrowly elliptic to lanceolate and entire to deeply pinnately lobed. 2-10 cm long and up to 1.5 cm wide. Alternate; densely hairy, more strongly white woolly beneath, darker green on the upper surface with age.

Inflorescence/Flowers: An open to contracted pannicle of numerous small, greenish, flower heads growing in tight clusters among leaves, near the ends of stems. Disc florets brownish, no ray flowers. Peripheral flowers usually sterile, central flowers fertile ( 2 ).

Fruit: Fruits dry, smooth, broadly cylindrical achenes ( 4 ).

Similar Species: Artemisia vulgaris


Life History: Perennial shrub

Native/Introduced: Native to Eurasiabut widely naturalized in the U.S. (5).

Photosynthetic pathway:

Phenology: Flowers from late August to September. Fruiting begins in early September to October.

Distribution/habitat: A very common component of foothills, plains and prairies of western North America from British Columbia and western Ontario to all states west from Wisconsin to Mississippi and into Mexico (3).


Wildlife: Palatability good for buffalo, and fair for deer, elk, sheep, and cattle

Ethnobotanical: Artemisia has a long history with many Northern Plains tribes in purification rites. The species A. ludoviciana is known as “man sage” as used by males of the Lakota Sioux tribe. The species A. cana used by women is thus known as “woman sage.” A. Ludoviciana is also used as a salve, tea and in its raw form to treat coughs, nosebleeds, cuts, headaches, deodorant, lung and stomach ailments, and as a mosquito repellent. Also used to treat wounds on horses.


  1. Bare, Janet, E. 1979. Wildflowers and weeds of Kansas. Regents Press of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, USA.
  1. Gilmore, Melvin R. 1991. Uses of Plants by the Indians of the Missouri River Region. University of Nebraska Press. Lincoln, Nebraska, USA. 82p.
  1. Johnson, James R., and Gary E. Larson. 1999. Grassland Plants of South Dakota and the Northern Great Plains: a field guide with photographs. South DakotaStateUniversity, Brookings, South Dakota, USA
  1. Kindscher, Kelly. 1987. Edible Wild Plants of the Prairie. University Press of Kansas. Lawrence, KS, USA.
  1. Larson, Gary and James R. Johnson. 1999. Plants of the Black Hills and BearLodgeMountains. South DakotaStateUniversity. Brookings, South Dakota, USA.
  1. McGregor, Ronald, L. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. University Press of Kansas. Lawrence, KS, USA. 74-75p.
  1. Mielke, Judy. 1993. Native Plants for Southwestern Landscapes.