Artemisia ludoviciana (White Sage)
|Also known as:||White Sagebrush, Prairie Sage, Western Mugwort|
|Habitat:||sun; dry, open prairies, along roads|
|Bloom season:||July - October|
|Plant height:||1 to 3 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: UPL MW: UPL NCNE: UPL|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers are numerous, short stalked, erect to hanging, in compact clusters arising from leaf axils, or branched in loose racemes up to 20 inches long. Opened flowers are yellow and petal-less, about 1/8 inch across, with a few pale yellow, thread-like pistils extending out from the center. Bracts and stalks are silvery white from a dense covering of fine hairs.
Leaves are uniformly silvery green to whitish from a dense covering of fine white hairs, but are sometimes more green on the upper surface and white underneath. Shape may be variable but is generally elliptical, to 5 inches long and 1 inch wide, with rounded or pointed tips and no stalk. The lower leaves are often lobed at the tips but leaves otherwise have smooth edges. Stems are unbranched or much branched, and gray-green from a dense covering of matted white hairs.
The leaves are aromatic when crushed. White Sage vaguely resembles Prairie Sagewort (Artemisia frigida) from a distance, but the latter has small leaves deeply lobed in linear segments, is more clump forming, and usually rather shorter. Also similar is Sawtooth Wormwood (Artemisia serrata), which has toothed leaves that are dark green on the upper surface and white on the underside, and hairless stems below the flower cluster. There are about 7 subspecies of A. ludoviciana (or more depending on the reference), most of which are native to western and southwestern North America. Subsp. ludoviciana is the most common, found throughout the US and Canada, and is the species found in Minnesota.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County, and at Whitewater Wildlife Management Area, Winona County. Other photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk.
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