Artemisia dracunculus (Tarragon)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
Habitat:sun; open, dry prairie
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:2 to 4 feet
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

[photo of flowers] Flowers are abundant in loose, leafy panicles throughout the upper branches, the heads are small and indistinct, 1/8 inch across, semi-spherical, greenish yellow, hanging downward on short stalks

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

[photo of leaves] Leaves are simple and alternate, linear and narrow, 1 to 3½ inches long and 1/6 inch or less in width, upper leaves a single linear segment, lower leaves divided into 3 or more linear lobes and typically wither away by flowering time (deciduous). Surfaces are smooth or with short fine hairs. Stems are hairless, green to reddish brown, multiple from the base and much branched, the lower stem becomes stiff and woody with age the upper branches fine and spreading - wispy.


Like many of the Artemisia species, the young foliage of A. dracunulus gives off a sweet, pungent odor when crushed and is the source of the cooking herb, tarragon. It is common in remnants of dry prairie where other sage species are found and can be confused with the foliage of Field Sagewort (Artemisia campestris). However the stem and branching structure of that species is narrowly erect to pyramidal and rarely gets over 3 feet tall, whereas Tarragon is open and spreading and commonly over 3 feet, giving the appearance of a small spreading shrub.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Glacial Lakes State Park, Pope County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Ramsey, Anoka, Pope and Kandiyohi counties..


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

Posted by: Kenny h - East of rose creek on shooting star trailit
on: 2017-10-12 11:58:09

Finally was able to put a positive ID on this plant/shrub...seeds are formed on some of the branches...I see it's not listed for Mower County...growing high on gravely old railroad prairie remnant bank.

Posted by: Lynette Coleman - Brooklyn park
on: 2023-09-07 14:16:43

Mixed in the bushes with my organic raspberries.

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