A few weeks ago, when we'd had our first frost, I checked out the sagebrush by our garage. This native blooms in the fall and it still had erect clusters of small, yellowish flowers.
Now the flowers have become seeds and are in tan-yellowish plumes, all nodding downward.
I recall my amazement when I first learned that this common shrub is in the Sunflower Family, Asteraceae. I immediately thought, "Where are the flowers?" And I soon learned, with the help of a patient instructor and a microscope, that those tiny, yellowish things were indeed flowers!
I study my plant in this winter phase. The nodding seed clusters, up to a foot long, occur toward the top of this four-foot shrub, but I've seen Big Sagebrush over 10 feet tall. And my plant today still has half-inch-long, gray-green leaves that are covered with fine hairs, giving the plant a silvery appearance. So this is, technically, a "winter-green" shrub, for this coming spring these old leaves fall away to be replaced by new ones. The leaves live only one season, in contrast to our "ever-greens" where the leaves remain for a number of seasons.
These leaves have three lobes at the tip, so it's named "tridentata" for three-toothed. The botanical label is Artemisia tridentate with Artimesia honoring an ancient Greek. But I've long wondered about the label "woodworm" for this large group of plants. And I've found enough information for half a book! But briefly, the leaves of a different species of sagebrush, Artemisia absinthium (occurring as an alien herb in our Gunnison Basin) were used in the preparation of a "vermifuge." Now the first part seems obvious after a moment's thought: "verm" would relate to vermin. Worms? Yep. The "fuge" would indicate how to get rid of the vermin (worms). Thus a worming agent!
And of course, there are many uses (some a bit questionable) but the Internet led to pages and pages of information! Also related are the alcoholic drinks absinthe and vermouth, plus there's much in Revelations 8:11, about a star called Wormwood that would fall and poison earthly waters. Simple sagebrush?blog comments powered by Disqus