Artemisia ludoviciana (White Sage)

Plant Info
Also known as: White Sagebrush, Prairie Sage, Western Mugwort
Genus:Artemisia
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
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):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

Pick an image for a larger view. See the glossary for icon descriptions.

Detailed Information

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

[photo of unopened flowers] 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: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] 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.

Notes:

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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More photos

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.

Comments

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

Posted by: rachel - mckinnley
on: 2012-09-19 12:18:33

i found white sage by the bounty here, but im also looking for more places it has been spotted

Posted by: Dan - Dakota County
on: 2013-09-17 12:50:21

Schaar's Bluff section of Spring Lake Park near Hastings has it growing in the new prairie grass section behind the silo.

Posted by: Shelley - Chisago
on: 2014-07-08 21:11:40

White sage is very bountiful in the North Branch area. Look for old fields and ditches. I have a garden full (:

Posted by: Steve - Lost Valley Prairie SNA
on: 2014-07-13 21:42:58

There are many severely degraded open grassy remnants at Lost Valley Prairie SNA. Many of them are no more than brome, bluegrass and other garbage. I have found that if there is ever any native plants left in an area at all, one of them will be sage. Amazingly hardy plant.

Posted by: Janelle - Stillwater
on: 2014-08-18 10:40:08

I want to grow White Sage in my perrenial garden-it's a smalle area only about 4'x4'. Is this enough space? Thank you!

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2014-08-18 13:20:09

Janelle, in cultivation this species can spread like crazy so a 4x4 plot won't hold it for long.

Posted by: Andrew - Buhl
on: 2016-04-07 18:55:26

All along the roads and rail road tracks and dumps

Posted by: georgette - st paul
on: 2016-06-17 14:06:26

If you find white sage growing wild is this what they use for smudging rituals

Posted by: Emma A - Buffalo, MN Wright County
on: 2016-06-17 22:53:07

There are a few patches right in front of my school, Buffalo High School. Every once in a while I go out and pick some, not sure if I should but I'm pretty sure it's fine cuz the are is for our science classes just to have a bit of space.

Posted by: koi - saint cloud
on: 2017-12-26 20:37:42

in st cloud by talahi elementary school there is quarries and once you go in the quarries you will see train tracks and if you go near them and keep walking naer them in tell a tand grassy area and keep walking by the train tracks on the grassy area in tell you see sage. and thares alot of sage diffront kines of it.

Posted by: Wanita Bray - Mahnomen
on: 2020-09-16 15:14:57

We have this all over growing wild along gravel roads!

Posted by: Carly Austin-Kukowski - Mc Nally's landing, Prarie Island Rd, Winona
on: 2021-09-18 10:22:15

Found a lot of this plant on the right hand side of this road.

Posted by: Diana K - Bemidji
on: 2021-11-19 06:01:45

This stuff was present in my field before restoration, and has since spread pretty aggressively, displacing all other native species. I'm trying to control it so that it doesn't take over the whole area!

Posted by: Charity S - Woodside township, SE ottertail county
on: 2022-06-10 15:38:53

I have an lots of white sage growing in the ditch along my property and on my property.

Posted by: Andy - Minneapolis
on: 2022-09-04 06:12:58

It's somehow growing on the east side of my house in sand/loam soil...maybe gets 4 hours of sun per day there. I've been pulling it, trampling it, etc., and it keeps coming back. I'll stop trying to kill it now that I know it's not a weed. Wonderful smell when the leaves are crushed.

Posted by: Magdalen
on: 2023-04-11 09:55:16

Looking for the nearest place we can travel to to responsibly wild-harvest. North of the cities?

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2023-04-11 10:46:21

Magdalen, I believe the DNR permits a limited amount of foraging on state lands such as for berries, mushrooms and invasive species like garlic mustard, but not native plants that I'm aware of. You would need landowner permission to harvest off private property. Might I suggest you plant some and harvest your own? Plants and/or seeds are readily available from native plant nurseries.

Posted by: Stacey Mueller - Mankato
on: 2023-05-17 12:20:59

Can you buy white sage plants in green houses? I saw some in a planter last year and fell in love. I searched everywhere for it. The plants I saw were in a mass plant planter. The leaves and flowers were SO white, they glowed. The pics I'm seeing on here are more gray. Is there there a different variety that is really white?

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2023-05-17 13:57:00

Stacey, white sage is sold by some native plant nurseries but you'll have to check them out to see which ones do. The species is pale in color but naturally varies from whitish to gray-green. I have it in my own garden and while I love the color contrast with surrounding vegetation, it's an aggressive spreader so I would think twice about using it in a residential landscape.

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