Sagebrush Facts

Sagebrush Facts
Sagebrush is an evergreen shrub that belongs to the aster family. There are 4 subspecies of sagebrush that can be found in Canada, USA and Mexico. Sagebrush grows in arid and semi-arid areas. It usually inhabits deserts, steppes and mountains. Habitat destruction, climate changes, overgrazing and wildfires are major threats for the survival of sagebrush in the wild. Despite these factors, population of sagebrush is still large and stable.
Interesting Sagebrush Facts:
Sagebrush has coarse stem with numerous, upward-oriented branches. It can reach 3 to 6 feet in height (up to 12 feet in the wet areas).
Young sagebrush has smooth, silvery bark. Old plants can be recognized by rough, grey-colored bark, divided in longitudinal strips.
Sagebrush has large taproot which can absorb water from a depth of 13 feet. Plant also forms several lateral roots that are located close to the surface of the ground, designed for absorption of rainfall.
Sagebrush produces grey, wedge-shaped leaves that are divided in 3 lobes near the tip. They are covered with fine, silvery hairs. Leaves can be seen on the bush all year round, even though sagebrush sheds part of the leaves during the late summer.
Leaves of sagebrush emit strong, pungent, turpentine-like odor thanks to high content of aromatic essential oils. Unpleasant fragrance and bitter taste of leaves represent defense strategy against herbivores. Odor is the most prominent after the rainstorm.
Sagebrush blooms during the summer and autumn. It produces small, yellow or white flowers arranged in long, tubular-shaped clusters on top of the stem and on the tips of the lateral branches. Male and female flowers develop individually on the same bush (monoecious plant). Flowers are designed for the pollination by wind.
Fruit of sagebrush is seed-like achene covered with tiny hairs. Seed are miniature and black colored.
Sagebrush propagates via seed and rhizome sprouts.
Leaves, fruit and seed of sagebrush are edible. They represent important source of food for the mammals such as pygmy rabbit, mule deer, pronghorn and birds such as sagebrush grouse and gray vireo.
Sagebrush emits volatile chemicals as an answer to an injury which signal nearby plants about potential danger. Plants that grow up to 24 inches away from the injured plant will accelerate production of repelling compounds to protect themselves against large herbivores.
Native Americans used bark of sagebrush for the manufacture of mats. Flour made of ground seed was important part of their diet.
Native Americans used leaves of sagebrush to prevent infections of wounds, stop the bleeding and to treat common cold, headache and athlete's foot.
Wood of sagebrush is often used for starting the fire by friction.
Sagebrush is a state flower of Nevada, which is also known as Sagebrush State.
Sagebrush is perennial plant that can survive over 100 years in the wild.

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