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Montana Field Guides

Big Sagebrush - Artemisia tridentata

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5

Agency Status
MNPS Threat Rank:
C-value: 3

External Links

General Description
Shrubs 30–250 cm high, not sprouting following fire. Herbage densely tomentose, aromatic. Leaves cuneate to oblong, 1–4 cm long, 3-lobed distally. Inflorescence paniculate, inconspicuously linear-bracteate. Involucre turbinate, 2.5–4 mm high; outer phyllaries green, tomentose; the inner tan; receptacle glabrous. Disk flowers perfect, 3 to 8, glandular; corolla 1.5–2 mm long. Achenes glandular, sometimes villous, ca. 1 mm long (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

We have subspecies tridentata, wyomingensis Beetle & A.M. Young, vaseyana (Rydb.) Beetle, and (according to Lesica [2012]) spiciformis (Osterh.) Kartesz & Gandhi.

Species Range

Range Comments
BC, AB south to CA, AZ, NM and NE (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 1792

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density



(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Usually deep soils of sagebrush steppe, steep open slopes; plains, valleys to subalpine (Lesica 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. BRIT Press. Fort Worth, TX).

  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View Online Publication
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    • Allred, B. W. 1941. Grasshoppers and their effect on sagebrush on the Little Powder River in Wyoming and Montana. Ecology 22:387-392.
    • Booth, W.E. 1947. The effect of grass competition on the growth and reproduction of big sagebrush, Artemisia tridentata. Proceedings Montana Academy of Science 7:23-25.
    • Husby, P.O. 1982. Effects of grazing on vegetation in the Artemisia tridentata-Festuca idahoensis habitat type. M.S. thesis. Montana State University, Bozeman. 76 pp.
    • Johnson, J.R. 1966. The effects of some environmental influences on big sagebrush, Artemisia tridentata nutt., reinvasion. M.S. thesis. Montana State University, Bozeman 100 pp.
    • Klarich, D., and T. Weaver. 1973. Effects of volatile substances of Artemisia tridentata on seed germination. Montana Acad. Sci. Proc. 33:31-36.
    • Lesica, P., M. T. Lavin, and P. F. Stickney. 2012. Manual of Montana Vascular Plants. Fort Worth, TX: BRIT Press. viii + 771 p.
    • Little, E.L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agriculture Handbook No. 541. U.S. Forest Service, Washington, D.C. 375 pp.
    • McArthur, E. D. and B. L. Welch. 1982. Growth rate differences among big sagebrush [Artemisia tridentata] accessions and subspecies. Journal of Range Management 35: 396-401.
    • Morris, M. S., and C. Passe. 1958. An ecological study of big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) in western Montana. Montana State University, School of For., Missoula. 11 pp.
    • Pase, C.P. 1950. An ecological study of sagebrush, Artemisia tridentata nutt., in western Montana, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana. M.S. thesis.
    • Payne, G.F. 1957. Some germination studies of Artemisia tridentata. Proceedings of the Montana Academy of Science 17:41-42.
    • Perryman, B. L., A. M. Maier, A. L. Hild and R. A. Olson. 2001. Demographic characteristics of 3 Artemisia tridentata Nutt. subspecies. Journal of Range Management 54: 166-170.
    • Peterson, J. G. 1984. The value of big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) as a forage source for mule deer. Pp. 72-85 in A. Dood, comp., Proc. Mont. Chapt., The Wildl. Soc., Butte. 85 pp.
    • Smith, D. W. 1969. A preliminary classification and characterization of big sage, Artemisia tridentata Nutt. , communities in central Montana. M.S. thesis, Montana State University, Bozeman. 68 pp.
    • Watts, M. J., and C. L. Wambolt. 1989. Economic evaluation of Wyoming big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) control methods. Weed Tech. 3:640-645.
    • Weaver, T. and D. Klarich. 1977. Allelopathic effects of volatile substances from Artemisia tridentata. American Midland Naturalist 97:508-512.
    • Weaver, T., and D. Klarich. 1976. Toxic effects of volatile exudates from Artemisia tridentata Nutt. on soil microbes. Montana Acad. Sci. Proc. 36:80-85.
    • Young, J. A., and R. A. Evans. 1989. Dispersal and germination of big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) seeds. Weed Science 37: 201-206.
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Citation for data on this website:
Big Sagebrush — Artemisia tridentata.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from