SPECIES: Artemisia filifolia
W.L. Wagner @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database
Luz Hernandez @ Medicinal Plants of the Southwest
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION:
McWilliams, Jack 2003. Artemisia filifolia In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ .
Oligosporus filifolius (Torr.) Poljakov 
NRCS PLANT CODE :
The accepted scientific name of sand sagebrush is Artemisia filifolia Torr. (Asteraceae) [37,38,46,81]. Sand sagebrush is not known to hybridize with other sagebrushes (Artemisia spp.) .
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS:
No special status
Community types: A community type of sand sagebrush is delineated by Collins  in southeastern Wyoming on sandy soils. Lauenroth and Milchunas  describe a community type of sand sagebrush/little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) occurring on aeolian sands in the shortgrass prairie.
Plant series: A honey mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa)-sand sagebrush series occurs on sandy soils in the Trans-Pecos region of Texas. In sand sagebrush-midgrass series, an evergreen shrubland or midgrass grassland occurs on sandy soils in the rolling and high plains area .
Plant alliances: In Kansas 3 shrubland "alliances" with sand sagebrush as a dominant are listed by Lauver and others . All of these alliances occur on "excessively-drained," sandy soils.
Sand shinnery oak (Quercus havardii)/sand sagebrush type: This ecotype is common in Texas wherever sand shinnery oak grows. It is characterized by honey mesquite, broom snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae), and plains yucca (Yucca campestris). Most common grasses include purple threeawn (Aristida purpurea), black grama (Bouteloua eriopoda), false buffalograss (Monroa squarrosa), and dropseeds (Sporobolus spp.) .
Sand sagebrush type: In a discussion of major forage types in Colorado and Wyoming, Costello  describes a sand sagebrush type with blue grama (B. gracilis) with a mixture of taller grasses including needle-and-thread grass (Hesperostipa comata), red threeawn (A. p. var. longiseta), and sand dropseed (S. cryptandrus) along with sand indicators prairie sandreed (Calamovilfa longifolia) and sand bluestem (Andropogon gerardii var. paucipilus). Little bluestem now persists mostly where moisture conditions are favorable and in cemeteries where there is no grazing. On areas heavily and continuously overgrazed, blue grama is commonly replaced by Russian-thistle (Salsola kali), lambsquarters (Chenopodium album), saltmeadow plantain (Plantago argyraea), and spreading buckwheat (Eriogonum effusum) .
Sand sagebrush grasslands: Sand sagebrush occurs with perennial grasses such as little bluestem, Carolina crabgrass (Digitaria cognata), blue grama, sand bluestem, and sand dropseed .
Sand sagebrush is a native, round, freely-branching woody shrub up to 5 feet (1.5 m) tall. Leaves are 1.2 to 2.0 inches (3-8 cm) long, less than 0.5 mm wide, entire or pinnately divided into filiform divisions and often fascicled. Numerous nodding heads containing 2 or 3 fertile, pistillate ray flowers and 1 to 6 perfect but sterile disc flowers are arranged into leafy, narrow panicles . Fruits of sand sagebrush are lightly-ribbed, obovoid achenes 0.7 to 1.0 mm long and 0.4 to 0.5 mm wide .
Sand sagebrush can accumulate mineral nutrients well above
levels found in the soils in which it grows, indicating it is adapted to soils of
low fertility .
RAUNKIAER  LIFE FORM:
Breeding system: Pendleton and others  describe sagebrush as monoecious.
Pollination: Sand sagebrush is wind pollinated [47,56].
Seed production: No information
Seed dispersal: Sagebrush seed in general has very poor dispersal. It lacks appendages for airborne transport by wind or attachment to animals. Most seed falls beneath the plant and moves 3 feet (0.9 m) or less per generation . There are no specific references to dispersal of sand sagebrush seeds in the literature.
Seed banking: No information
Germination: In laboratory germination trials, Bridges  planted sand sagebrush at various depths. He found germination only occurred at a planting depth of 0.5 inch (1.3 cm). Other depths tested were all deeper, implying sand sagebrush germinates better at shallow depths than deeper. It was 17 days from planting until 1st emergence of sand sagebrush seedlings. Vines  states seed of sand sagebrush has a germination rate of 40 to 50%.
Seedling establishment/growth: Sand sagebrush was planted at the Alton coal fields in Utah . Three years after planting, sand sagebrush seedlings had a 75% survival rate, and plants averaged 36 inches (91.4 cm) in height with 42 inches (106.7 cm) mean crown diameter.
Sand sagebrush resprouts profusely after both fall and spring prescribed burns
Sand sagebrush occurs on dunes, hills and other deep, well-drained sands .
Secor and others  analyzed soil samples taken from surface soil directly beneath sand sagebrush plants in a shinnery oak/sand sagebrush community in New Mexico. Their results indicate sand sagebrush grows in sandy soils with low silt and clay values. Their analysis of soil texture was:
|Soil separates (mean value of 4 determinations) in percent||Textural class|
Daley  analyzed the soil at 2 different sand sagebrush sites in eastern Colorado and also found sand sagebrush grows in sandy soils with low silt and clay components. The sites are approximately 100 miles (160 km) apart. His results, expressed in percentages and standard error of the mean (S.E.), are:
Elevational range for sand sagebrush over its whole range is given as 2,000 to 6,000 feet (610-1,829 m) . Some elevational ranges for individual states are:
Arizona: 4,000 to 6,000 feet (1,219-1,829 m) 
Colorado: 3,500 to 5,500 feet (1,067-1,676 m) 
New Mexico: 3,500 to 5,500 feet (1,067-1,676 m) 
Texas: 2,500 to 5,000 feet (762-1,524 m) 
Utah: 2,707 to 7,513 feet (825-2290 m)
Annual precipitation for the shortgrass prairie, which includes sand sagebrush as a
major shrub, ranges from 11.8 to 21.7 inches (300-550 mm) .
In Utah sand sagebrush occurs in areas with 8 to10 inches (200-275 mm) of annual
precipitation . The sandhills of Oklahoma,
where sand sagebrush is a dominant shrub, receives 23.7 inches (602 mm) average
annual precipitation .
In the sand hills of Colorado, sand sagebrush forms a "subclimax" community with sand sagebrush as a dominant shrub . Also in Colorado, Daley  states sand sagebrush is part of a climax, edaphic variant of the mixed-grass prairie.
Diamond and others  describe 2 "series"
of plants containing sand sagebrush as "late seral." First is an evergreen shrub
system described as a sand sagebrush-mid-grass series that occurs on the high
plains and rolling plains of Texas. The 2nd is a "mainly deciduous
shrub" series of honey mesquite-sand sagebrush that
occurs in the Trans-Pecos region of Texas.
Information on the phenology of sand sagebrush is sparse. Growing period for sand sagebrush in the southern Great Plains is from February to November . In the north Central Plains sand sagebrush fruit ripens from September to October . Flowering times for sand sagebrush in several states are:
Arizona: August through November 
New Mexico: August and September 
Kansas: August to October 
Fire regimes: In an early (1939) report on vegetation of Colorado sand hills, Ramaly  describes a sand sagebrush community as "...a somewhat permanent community partly dependent for its persistence upon grass fires and overgrazing."
There is no specific information in the literature concerning fire regimes for sand sagebrush. Fire regimes for plant communities and ecosystems in which sand sagebrush occurs are summarized below. Find further fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes".
|Community or Ecosystem||Dominant Species||Fire Return Interval Range (years)|
|bluestem prairie||Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium||< 10 [40,54]|
|Nebraska sandhills prairie||A. gerardii var. paucipilus-S. scoparium||< 10|
|bluestem-Sacahuista prairie||A. littoralis-Spartina spartinae||< 10|
|sagebrush steppe||A. tridentata/Pseudoroegneria spicata||20-70 |
|basin big sagebrush||A. tridentata var. tridentata||12-43 |
|mountain big sagebrush||A. tridentata var. vaseyana||15-40 [3,12,52]|
|Wyoming big sagebrush||A. tridentata var. wyomingensis||10-70 (40**) [78,84]|
|desert grasslands||Bouteloua eriopoda and/or Pleuraphis mutica||5-100|
|plains grasslands||Bouteloua spp.||< 35|
|blue grama-buffalo grass||B. gracilis-Buchloe dactyloides||< 35|
|grama-galleta steppe||B. gracilis-P. jamesii||< 35 to < 100|
|blue grama-tobosa prairie||B. gracilis-P. mutica||< 35 to < 100|
|mountain-mahogany-Gambel oak scrub||Cercocarpus ledifolius-Quercus gambelii||< 35 to < 100|
|blackbrush||Coleogyne ramosissima||< 35 to < 100|
|creosotebush||Larrea tridentata||< 35 to < 100|
|wheatgrass plains grasslands||Pascopyrum smithii||< 35|
|pinyon-juniper||Pinus-Juniperus spp.||< 35|
|Mexican pinyon||Pinus cembroides||20-70 [53,73]|
|Colorado pinyon||P. edulis||10-400+ [25,29,39]|
|interior ponderosa pine*||P. ponderosa var. scopulorum||2-30 [2,5,45]|
|Arizona pine||Pinus p. var. arizonica||2-15 [5,16,66]|
|galleta-threeawn shrubsteppe||Pleuraphis jamesii-Aristida purpurea||< 35 to < 100 |
|mesquite||Prosopis glandulosa||< 35 to < 100 [51,54]|
|mesquite-buffalo grass||P. glandulosa-Buchloe dactyloides||< 35|
|Texas savanna||P. g. var. glandulosa||< 10|
|shinnery||Quercus mohriana||< 35|
|little bluestem-grama prairie||Schizachyrium scoparium-Bouteloua spp.||< 35 |
Vermeire and others  conducted both spring and
fall prescribed burns to determine effects of fire on sand sagebrush in
Oklahoma. They found fire-induced mortality was less than 10% for both fall and
spring burns. However, Wright and others 
describe sand sagebrush as killed by fire.
PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE:
Sand sagebrush resprouts profusely after both fall and spring prescribed burns . Braun  states sand sagebrush resprouts after fire.
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE:
In fall and spring prescribed burns on sand sagebrush, Vermeire and others  found "profuse" resprouting, seemingly without any negative effects on the plant's carbohydrate reserves. Sand sagebrush on fall-burned plots resprouted the next March, a month after bud break on nonburned sand sagebrush. Of the plants burned, 94% resprouted. Sand sagebrush in spring-burned plots initiated resprouting in May of the same year with a 92% resprout rate.
Vermeire and others  found the primary effect of fire on sand sagebrush was
alteration of canopy structure. Fall burns reduced shrub height by nearly 50%
and canopy area and volume by more than 75%. Spring burns reduced shrub height,
canopy area and volume by more than 90%.
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
In a 1978 study on controlling woody range plants in Nebraska, Launchbaugh and Owensby  state sand sagebrush can be "controlled" by spring burning at "grass greenup" to kill the tops of sand sagebrush and then moderate continuous grazing pressure can be used to retard sprouts and seedlings. They urge caution with sandy sites where thick brush occurs because complete plant removal by fire and subsequent hoof action may open up an area to wind and water erosion. Humphrey  cautions "...control of sand sagebrush, particularly by fire, should be attempted only after careful evaluation of the local erosion hazard" and Daley  states a reduction in cover of sand sagebrush could have "serious effects" by exposing the surface to wind erosion.
Applying prescribed fire to sand sagebrush communities does not appear to be a viable option for reducing shrub density, unless delayed mortality occurs due to additional stresses, such as infestation by insects. Prescribed fire may be a useful tool for reducing sand sagebrush canopy height and volume and potentially making resources, such as light and water, available to more desirable grasses and forbs .
Sand sagebrush is listed as a plant "...important to Texas and New Mexico mule deer" by Bryant and Morrison , and Bryant and Demarais  list sand sagebrush as having "medium" food value for white-tailed deer in Texas.
In the panhandle of Oklahoma prairie dogs establish "towns" in overgrazed sand sagebrush grasslands , and burrowing owls utilize abandoned burrows as nesting sites.
Sage-grouse, a sagebrush-obligate species, generally is reliant on big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) but at the edges of its range it utilizes sand sagebrush . In New Mexico sand sagebrush is an important part of the diet of lesser prairie-chickens, particularly in winter . In Oklahoma, Jones  studied lesser prairie-chickens and analyzed their diet for 3 years. He found sand sagebrush was utilized by lesser prairie-chickens from November through March. No utilization was noted during April through October. His findings, expressed as percent volume of food use for 2 plant associations are :
Jones  also assigned a "food index value" to sand sagebrush for both vegetational associations. This index places a relative value to a food item based on availability and use for a given period. In the shrub association, sand sagebrush was assigned an index value of 4 out of 12 plants. In the half-shrub association sand sagebrush was given a value of 3 out of 13 plants.
Also in Oklahoma scaled quail utilize the seeds of sand sagebrush, and Ault and Stormer  assigned a "selectivity rating" of low in fall and winter and medium in spring and summer for scaled quail use of sand sagebrush seeds. This rating was calculated by dividing the percentage of the food item in the feces of the bird by the percentage of the item in availability samples of that food category.
Chemical control of large blocks of sand sagebrush was carried out on the Cimarron National Grassland in southwestern Kansas in 1978. Rodgers and Sexson  compared post treatment response of breeding birds on treated blocks of sand sagebrush pasture with untreated blocks for 5 years. They used 10 listening stations per pasture. They found "extreme variations" in bird diversity and abundance on the treated pasture were associated with sharp annual changes in the herbaceous community during the 1st three years after chemical treatment. A decline in bird diversity and abundance was observed in the 4th and 5th years after treatment, following structural decay of dead sand sagebrush. For example, northern bobwhite quail were no longer present on the treated pasture in the 4th year but remained abundant on the control pasture. Mean number of singing birds heard per station in control and 2, 4-D treated sand sagebrush pastures for 5 years were :
|Species||Mean number of singing birds by year and treatment|
|control||2, 4-d||control||2, 4-d||control||2, 4-d||control||2, 4-d||control||2, 4-d|
Palatability/nutritional value: Palatability of sand sagebrush for livestock is rated as :
Savage and Heller  describe the yearly average of calcium content in sand sagebrush as nearly 3 times greater than the yearly average for grasses and the phosphorus content of sand sagebrush as exceeding the average for all grasses by 24.6%. Rasmussen and Brotherson  analyzed mineral nutrient content of sand sagebrush in Utah. Their results, expressed as means and standard deviations (SD) were:
|Calcium (ppm)||7971.00 (SD ± 995.00)|
|Magnesium (ppm)||1874.00 (SD ± 221.10)|
|Sodium (ppm)||47.70 (SD 5.85)|
|Potassium (ppm)||24,160.00 (SD 3,052.90)|
|Iron (ppm)||92.60 (SD ± 29.80)|
|Manganese (ppm)||30.43 (SD ± 9.55)|
|Zinc (ppm)||23.80 (SD ± 3.37)|
|Copper (ppm)||11.65 (SD ± 2.78)|
|Phosphorus (ppm)||2,603.00 (SD ± 236.59)|
|Nitrogen (%)||2.38 (SD ± 0.28)|
Cover value: Lesser prairie-chickens in New Mexico occupy semiarid grasslands that typically include a large component of shrubs, either sand shinnery oak or sand sagebrush [19,30]. Jones  describes sand sagebrush as important for cover of lesser prairie-chickens in New Mexico, especially when grass production is poor. In Colorado in the Comanche Lesser Prairie Chicken Natural Area, sand sagebrush provides important cover for lesser prairie chickens .
Scaled quail in Texas utilize sand sagebrush as loafing cover . Dittberner and Olson  rate sand sagebrush as poor cover for all classes of wildlife except upland game birds, nongame birds, and small mammals.VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES:
Sand sagebrush was
tested for reclamation value at the Alton coal fields in Utah.
Three years after being planted, sand
sagebrush had a 75% survival rate and plants averaged 36 inches (91.4 cm) in
height with 42 inches (106.7 cm) mean crown diameter. Sand sagebrush is listed
by the authors as a recommended "secondary species" for reclaimed areas of the
coal field .
Adams and McChesney  extracted phytochemicals from sand sagebrush that can be used for liquid fuels and petrochemical substitution. Sand sagebrush is an excellent indicator of sand  and is recommended as a border plant in group plantings on sandy sites in the southern Great Plains .
The Navajo tribe used sand sagebrush as stock feed, toilet paper , and to treat snakebite
OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
Mowing is especially suited for controlling sand sagebrush . A review of pesticides to control sand sagebrush is provided by Wilson .
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