Artemisia frigida (Prairie Sagewort)

Plant Info
Also known as: Sage Wormwood, Fringed Sagewort
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; dry prairie
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:4 to 16 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: panicle Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Flowers are abundant in erect to somewhat spreading, branching clusters (panicles) or in loose racemes along the upper branches. The heads are small and indistinct, short-stalked, 1/8 inch across, semi-spherical, with yellow faces hanging downward. The leafy bracts are silvery green from fine silky hairs.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are ½ to 1½ inches long, deeply divided into two or three sets of 3 or 5 short, linear lobes, the lower leaves short stalked, upper leaves stalkless. Leaves and stems are silvery green to blue-green from dense, silky white hairs (canescent) mostly throughout but upper leaves can become smooth and hairless. Stems are multiple from the base and usually much branched in the upper plant. The lower stem becomes stiff and woody with age, the upper branches are slender and narrowly erect.


Prairie Sagewort spreads from underground rhizomes and can form large mats, similar to White Sage (Artemisia ludoviciana). Both are covered in dense, silky white hairs and can look similar from a distance. The two are easily differentiated by white sage's broader, flat blades compared to prairie sage's short, wipsy, fringe-like leaves, and while White Sage can form colonies from its own rhizomes, it is not clump forming as Prairie Sagewort is. Leaves of both species give off a pungent odor when crushed.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Rice Creek Regional Trail, Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Ramsey, Anoka and Pope counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: luciearl - Lake Shore, MN
on: 2016-07-31 20:33:30

Got this as a gift. Planted it in sandy soil. Looking forward to seeing it next year.

Posted by: Barb Spears - Oak Savanna Park, Becker, MN
on: 2022-05-13 11:54:04

On a hike with the MN Women's Woodland Network on April 27 in Oak Savanna Park right after the County burned the site. This was one of the few plants we saw. I didn't know what it was, so took pictures and sent them to iNaturalist for ID. They came back with "fringed sagebrush" with the same latin name "Artemisia frigida." I'm writing an article for the MNWWN newsletter and will link to this page, but I am confused by the different common names - especially from iNaturalist.

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2022-05-13 12:31:50

Barb, common names are not standardized and iNaturalist often uses names I never heard of. Don't know where they come from, but it reinforces the practice of always using Latin names when seeking plant information.

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