Artemisia serrata (Saw-tooth Wormwood)
|Also known as:||Leafy Mugwort, Toothed Sagewort, Saw-leaf Mugwort|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; prairies, woodland edges|
|Bloom season:||August - October|
|Plant height:||3 to 6 feet|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||none|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Flowers are numerous on short, ascending branches forming a narrow but open cluster on the upper half of the plant. The flower heads are small and indistinct, 1/8 inch across, egg shaped, petal-less, greenish or tinged red, erect to drooping, on short stalks or stalkless. Open flowers have 3 to 5 pale yellow, thread-like pistils emerging from the center. Outer bracts, stalks and upper stems are densely covered in matted hairs, giving a gray-green appearance.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are simple and alternate, lance-like, 2 to 6 inches long and ¼ to 1 inch wide, stalkless except for the lowest leaves. Lower leaves have sharply toothed edges, the upper leaves becoming smaller and toothless. Upper leaf surface is green (usually dark) and smooth, lower surface is white from short, densely matted hairs. Stems are single or multiple from the ground, mostly hairless and unbranched in the lower plant, becoming hairy and much branched in the flower cluster.
Of Minnesota's five native Artemisia species, A. serrata does not inhabit the dry western prairie habitats common to the other four and in fact is found mostly in the eastern half of the state, south of Duluth. Its preference for moist soils and a higher shade tolerance makes it better adapted to wood margins, especially along lake shores, shrubby wetlands and riparian areas. While some references say A. serrata can grow to heights of 9 feet, I've never personally seen a specimen taller than about 5. A similar species is White Sage (Artemisia ludoviciana), which has toothless leaves, all leaf and stem surfaces densely covered in matted hairs, and typically silvery-green, while Saw-tooth Wormwood leaves have serrated edges, are green (typically dark) and hairless on the upper leaf surface, and stems mostly hairless below the flower cluster.
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Photos by K. Chayka taken in Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Anoka and Ramsey counties. Photos courtesy Keir Morse taken at Wild River State Park.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?