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

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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, this species doesn't seem to spread a lot so a 4x4 plot should be sufficient for a few plants.

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.

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