SPECIES: Artemisia frigida
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Photo courtesy of Wisconsin State Herbarium
Photo courtesy of Wisconsin State Herbarium
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION:
McWilliams, Jack 2003. Artemisia frigida. 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/ .
NRCS PLANT CODE :
The scientific name of fringed sagebrush is Artemisia frigida Willd. (Asteraceae) [53,66,71,74,85].
Numerous ecotypes of fringed sagebrush are known over its broad range, but it is
not known to hybridize with other Artemisia spp. .
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS:
No special status
A classification of "critically imperiled" has been assigned to fringed sagebrush in Kansas  and fringed sagebrush is listed as "imperiled" in Wisconsin .
In a 1st approximation of sagebrush (Artemisia spp.)-steppe habitat types in northern Colorado, Francis  describes a "topographic climax" habitat type of bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata)/fringed sagebrush as part of an effort to classify mule deer winter range. Also in Colorado, Komarkova  describes 4 habitat types with fringed sagebrush as a dominant in the Gunnison and Uncompahgre National Forests. Three of these habitat types occur on warm, dry, south-facing slopes and 1 on an area "controlled" by grazing.
Fringed sagebrush is a dominant shrub in the ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa)/fringed sagebrush/needle-and-thread grass (Hesperostipa comata) community type in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado . A community type of fringed sagebrush/glaucous bluegrass (Poa glauca) occurs in southeastern Yukon. In the montane zone of the Alsek River region, southwestern Yukon, a fringed sagebrush/glaucous bluegrass community type is restricted to extremely dry, well-drained aeolian deposits along the Alsek and Dezadeash rivers . A blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis)/ fringed sagebrush community type in Colorado is described by Moir and Trlica . They suggest that it is a result of "environmental stress" induced by grazing.
Nadeau and Corns  describe a prairie Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha)/fringed sagebrush/wild blue flax (Linum lewisii) and a thickspike wildrye (Elymus macrourus)/fringed sagebrush vegetation type in Jasper National Park in Alberta.
Fringed sagebrush occurs in a wide variety of habitat types encompassing grasslands, shrublands and dry woodlands. Some of the more common associates of fringed sagebrush in these ecosystems are:
mixed prairie -dense clubmoss (Selaginella densa), winterfat (Krascheninnikovia lanata), needle-and-thread, blue grama, western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii), prairie Junegrass , broom snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae) , and Hood's phlox (Phlox hoodii) .
shortgrass prairie -blue grama, buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides), western wheatgrass [43,79], needle-and-thread, threadleaf (Carex filifolia) and needleleaf sedge (C. duriuscula), saltgrass (Distichlis spicata), alkali sacaton (Sporobolus airoides), scarlet globemallow (Sphaeralcea coccinea), fourwing saltbush (Atriplex canescens), winterfat, rubber rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus), and broom snakeweed .
Alaska steppe-bluebunch wheatgrass .
The numerous leaves are 0.24 to 0.48 inch (6-12 mm) long and are 2 or 3 times pinnately divided. Numerous small flower heads are borne in nodding racemes or open panicles. Each head contains 10 to 17 outer, seed-producing, pistillate, ray flowers and numerous (25-50) tubular-funnelform, perfect, seed-producing disc flowers . The fruits are achenes bearing tiny seeds .
Roots: In a 1965 study of grassland species in Saskatchewan, Coupland and Johnson  suggest roots of fringed sagebrush have "sufficient plasticity" to adjust to a semiarid climate by developing taproots in periods when moisture penetration permits, but to make use of moisture near the surface in habitats where deeper supplies are continually limiting due to runoff. In locations where moisture is often deficient near the soil surface, but where occasional moisture penetration to considerable depth permits establishment of deep roots, the taproot system is well developed. Taproots are not found where deep penetration of moisture is prevented by excessive runoff or where moisture supply in the upper layers of soil is more dependable.
Where the taproot is developed extensively it is a woody structure up to 0.4 inch (10 mm) in diameter, which descends vertically. Its thickness decreases rapidly, as many laterals originate just below the soil surface. These mostly descend vertically or obliquely, but a few grow horizontally before turning abruptly downwards. Main laterals are 2-3 mm in diameter and usually penetrate as deeply as the main taproot. Taproots can extend to depths as great as 5.3 feet (1.6 m) .
Within medium textured soils lateral spread of roots was greatest in the most arid zone where it reached 7.9 to 9.8 inches (20-25 cm). Under these conditions small branches (0.5-1.0 mm in diameter) from the taproot are usually confined to the top 35.4 inches (90 cm) of soil and these spread more widely than the thicker laterals .
In a 1984 study of mycorrhizal inoculum in a ponderosa pine forest in
Colorado, Kovacic and others  determined fringed sagebrush was mycorrhizal
and Dittberner and Olson  describe fringed sagebrush as endomycorrhizal.
RAUNKIAER  LIFE FORM:
Fringed sagebrush reproduces by seed  produced by both ray and disc flowers . Under favorable conditions, fringed sagebrush increases in basal cover by layering .
Breeding system: Fringed sagebrush ray and disc flowers are fertile .
Pollination: Fringed sagebrush is wind pollinated .
Seed production: No seed is produced by fringed sagebrush in dry years; even in favorable years less than half of plants produce seed .
Bai and Romo  conducted experiments in Saskatchewan to determine effects of disturbance on seed production in fringed sagebrush. They utilized clipping, litter removal, tillage, and clipping plus litter removal as disturbance agents at 2 different sites. Data were collected the 1st and 2nd growing season following disturbance. They concluded disturbance was not a major influence on seed production by fringed sagebrush. Other factors, such as climate, exerted a dominant effect. Tillage had a greater effect in stimulating seed production than clipping or removing litter. The authors attributed this to reduced competition from neighboring plants. Average of results over both years were:
|Year following disturbance||Site||Clipping (C)||
Litter removal (L)
Seed dispersal: Sagebrush (Artemisia spp.) seed, in general, has very poor dispersal. It lacks appendages for airborne transport by wind or for attachment to animals. Most seed falls beneath the plants and moves 3 feet (1 m) or less per generation . However, Whisenant and Uresk  state the "widely dispersed" seed of fringed sagebrush helps it re-establish after fire.
Iverson  studied dispersal distance of fringed sagebrush seeds in western North Dakota. He estimated seeds of fringed sagebrush dispersed 55 inches (140 cm) given hypothetical conditions of 18.6 miles/hour (30 km/hr) wind speed and a seed height of 11.8 inches (30 cm).
Seed banking: Fringed sagebrush produces a large amount of seeds that can remain viable in the soil for "many" years until conditions are favorable for germination . In years with limited seed production, the seed bank is sufficient to maintain populations of fringed sagebrush should established plants perish . In a study of revegetation after surface mining in North Dakota, fringed sagebrush germinated after 3 and 4 years in the seed bank. In a 1-year-old soil stockpile, fringed sagebrush contributed 22% of total vegetation after the soil was spread .
Germination: Fringed sagebrush seeds in the soil can germinate anytime during the growing season .
Seedling establishment/growth: Environmental conditions during June and early July are critical in the emergence and growth of fringed sagebrush. Most seedlings of fringed sagebrush emerge in spring and early summer, enabling them to temporarily exploit the period for growth when soil water is highest and temperatures are moderate. However, fringed sagebrush seeds in the soil can germinate and seedlings can be recruited anytime during the growing season .
Fringed sagebrush seedlings withstand short-term drought "very well" and show moderate competitiveness and vigor. A 3-year establishment period is required for plants to reach flowering under dryland conditions .
In a laboratory experiment on emergence of fringed sagebrush seedlings, Harvey  determined surface plantings gave highest germination but desiccation severely limited seedling survival. Emergence of fringed sagebrush seedlings from 3 different planting depths was :
|Depth (mm)||Percentage of seedling emergence|
Fringed sagebrush's ability to reproduce asexually is disputed. Fringed sagebrush
can be regenerated from cuttings collected from February through May . Under favorable
conditions, fringed sagebrush increases in basal cover by
layering . Whisenant and Uresk
 report 38% of fringed sagebrush resprouted after a prescribed fire
in a mixed-prairie in South Dakota.
Fringed sagebrush occupies a wide variety of sites. Most typically, it grows in full sunlight in dry, coarse, shallow soils. However, it tolerates moderate shade well and thrives on ditch banks and along streams . On winter ranges in western Utah and eastern Nevada, fringed sagebrush may occur in dense stands along shallow depressions that collect moisture from summer rains .
Elevation: Fringed sagebrush occurs from 4,000 to 11,000 feet (1,200-3,350 m) throughout its range . Specific elevational ranges for fringed sagebrush in various locations show a wider range of elevation. They are:
Alaska: "lowlands" to 3,281 feet (1,000 m) 
Arizona: 5,500 to 8,000 feet (1,676-2,438 m) 
Colorado: 4,500 to 10,000 feet (1,372-3,048 m) 
Nevada: 6,800 to 11,000 feet (2,073-3,353 m) 
New Mexico: 5,500 to 8,000 feet (1,676-2,438 m) 
Utah: 2,953 to 11,417 feet (900 to 3480 m) 
Salt tolerance: Fringed sagebrush has a "fair" tolerance for salt .
Drought tolerance: Fringed sagebrush has a "good" drought tolerance, requiring an annual precipitation range of 8 to12 inches (20-30 cm) [68,119].
Soil: Fringed sagebrush does well on shallow to deep, well-drained soils with a pH from neutral to slightly alkaline. Texture of the soil can be fine to coarse . Hann  states fringed sagebrush is found on soils with calcareous parent materials.
Dittberner and Olson  compiled information on soil types and growth of fringed sagebrush for Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, and North Dakota. They describe fringed sagebrush's growth as good on loam, sandy loam, and clay loam; fair on gravel and sand; fair to poor on clay and poor on dense clay.
Fringed sagebrush occurs on rocky ridges and foothills .
Fringed sagebrush is well represented in all successional stages, depending on location and ecosystems. It is well adapted in northern mixed prairie in a successional continuum from early to late seral stages . It is also part of both seral and climax communities in a ponderosa pine/bunchgrass biogeoclimatic zone in the Junction Wildlife Management Area of British Columbia .
Early: In a discussion of winter game range in southern Idaho by Rosentreter and Jorgenson , they describe fringed sagebrush as a "good" pioneer species on harsh sites.
Mid-successional: Burgess  studied succession in the sandhills of southeastern North Dakota. He found fringed sagebrush to be a "transitional" plant species. Frequency and cover percentages for 60 quadrats were:
A community type of fringed sagebrush/glaucous bluegrass in
southeastern Yukon is considered an edaphic climax . Coupland  describes fringed
sagebrush as "...the most abundant
species among the herbs and dwarf half-shrubs" in the climax vegetation of
northern mixed-grass prairie.
Phenology of fringed sagebrush is influenced by geographic location. Generally development begins later in northern areas and earlier in southern locations.
In the mixed-grass prairie of Canada, fringed sagebrush begins growth about mid-April. Flower stalks appear towards the end of July and flower buds are present about the end of the 1st week in August. Fringed sagebrush is in full bloom 2 weeks later. Seed ripens by mid-September and the foliage dries "soon" afterward .
A shortgrass prairie in Colorado observed by Dickinson and Dodd  showed fringed sagebrush began growth at the beginning of April with flower buds present in mid-July and mature floral buds by the end of the month. Floral buds and open flowers were present by the end of August and ripening fruit by the beginning of September. By the end of September, the plants had buds, flowers, green and ripe fruit and were dispersing seeds. Early November brought winter dormancy but seeds continued to disperse. Flowering of fringed sagebrush was delayed because of a dry autumn during the study and after flowering; the same conditions apparently brought on earlier seed dispersal.
Resprouting has been observed after fire in fringed sagebrush. Cawker  states fringed sagebrush "may stump sprout" after burning, and Anderson and Bailey  noted an increase in fringed sagebrush cover after 24 years of spring burning due to "the suckers of fringed sagebrush ."
Fire regimes: There is no specific information in the literature concerning fire regimes for fringed sagebrush. Fire regimes for plant communities and ecosystems in which fringed sagebrush occurs are summarized below. For further information regarding fire regimes and fire ecology of communities and ecosystems where fringed sagebrush is found, see the "Fire Ecology Adaptations" section of the FEIS species summary for the plant community or ecosystem dominants listed below.
|Community or Ecosystem||Dominant Species||Fire Return Interval Range (years)|
|bluestem prairie||Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium||< 10 [82,98]|
|Nebraska sandhills prairie||Andropogon gerardii var. paucipilus-Schizachyrium scoparium||< 10|
|silver sagebrush steppe||Artemisia cana||5-45 [61,103,132]|
|sagebrush steppe||Artemisia tridentata/Pseudoroegneria spicata||20-70 |
|basin big sagebrush||Artemisia tridentata var. tridentata||12-43 |
|mountain big sagebrush||Artemisia tridentata var. vaseyana||15-40 [8,22,94]|
|Wyoming big sagebrush||Artemisia tridentata var. wyomingensis||10-70 (40**) [123,135]|
|saltbush-greasewood||Atriplex confertifolia-Sarcobatus vermiculatus||< 35 to < 100|
|desert grasslands||Bouteloua eriopoda and/or Pleuraphis mutica||5-100|
|plains grasslands||Bouteloua spp.||< 35|
|blue grama-needle-and-thread grass-western wheatgrass||Bouteloua gracilis-Hesperostipa comata-Pascopyrum smithii||< 35|
|blue grama-buffalo grass||Bouteloua gracilis-Buchloe dactyloides||< 35|
|grama-galleta steppe||Bouteloua gracilis-Pleuraphis jamesii||< 35 to < 100|
|blue grama-tobosa prairie||Bouteloua gracilis-Pleuraphis mutica||< 35 to < 100|
|cheatgrass||Bromus tectorum||< 10 |
|curlleaf mountain-mahogany*||Cercocarpus ledifolius||13-1000 [10,114]|
|mountain-mahogany-Gambel oak scrub||Cercocarpus ledifolius-Quercus gambelii||< 35 to < 100|
|western juniper||Juniperus occidentalis||20-70|
|Rocky Mountain juniper||Juniperus scopulorum||< 35|
|wheatgrass plains grasslands||Pascopyrum smithii||< 35 |
|Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir||Picea engelmannii-Abies lasiocarpa||35 to > 200 |
|black spruce||Picea mariana||35-200 |
|blue spruce*||Picea pungens||35-200|
|pine-cypress forest||Pinus-Cupressus spp.||< 35 to 200 |
|pinyon-juniper||Pinus-Juniperus spp.||< 35 |
|whitebark pine*||Pinus albicaulis||50-200 [1,5]|
|Mexican pinyon||Pinus cembroides||20-70 [96,120]|
|Rocky Mountain lodgepole pine*||Pinus contorta var. latifolia||25-300+ [6,7,107]|
|Colorado pinyon||Pinus edulis||10-400+ [47,52,77,98]|
|interior ponderosa pine*||Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum||2-30 [7,14,86]|
|Arizona pine||Pinus ponderosa var. arizonica||2-15 [14,27,116]|
|galleta-threeawn shrubsteppe||Pleuraphis jamesii-Aristida purpurea||< 35 to < 100 |
|aspen-birch||Populus tremuloides-Betula papyrifera||35-200 [40,125]|
|quaking aspen (west of the Great Plains)||Populus tremuloides||7-120 [7,54,93]|
|mountain grasslands||Pseudoroegneria spicata||3-40 (10**) [6,7]|
|Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir*||Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca||25-100 [7,8,9]|
|oak-hickory||Quercus-Carya spp.||< 35|
|oak-juniper woodland (Southwest)||Quercus-Juniperus spp.||< 35 to < 200 |
|oak savanna||Quercus macrocarpa/Andropogon gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium||2-14 [98,125]|
|little bluestem-grama prairie||Schizachyrium scoparium-Bouteloua spp.||< 35 |
|elm-ash-cottonwood||Ulmus-Fraxinus-Populus spp.||< 35 to 200 [40,125]|
During prescribed fire experiments in a mixed-prairie in Badlands
National Park, South Dakota, fire killed "many" fringed
sagebrush plants . In a wildlife habitat improvement study for
California bighorn sheep in British Columbia, burning of big sagebrush
stands resulted in killing "most" fringed sagebrush plants .
Wasser  states wildfire generally kills "some"
fringed sagebrush plants and sometimes "most" plants.
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT:
Whisenant and Uresk  noted density of fringed sagebrush changed "little" following fire. Seedlings established quickly following fire. Size of fringed sagebrush plants after fire was "greatly" reduced. About 38% of fringed sagebrush plants resprouted following fire. Wasser  states fringed sagebrush plants recover from wildfire in 3 years.
PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE:
In a discussion of plant response to fire in various ecosystems, Wright and Thompson  describe fringed sagebrush as "reduced" by spring burning in a mixed-grass prairie and "seriously harmed" by both spring and fall burning in the Canadian Great Plains.
Kirsch and Kruse  state cover of fringed sagebrush was
"unchanged" by burning on the mixed-grass prairie of North Dakota. However,
their definition of unchanged includes a range of change in cover from plus 99%
to minus 49% for the plants studied.
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE:
Bailey and Anderson  conducted an experiment in Alberta designed to determine effects of spring and fall prescribed burning of a rough fescue (Festuca altaica)/short bristle needle and thread (Hesperostipa curtiseta) grass community. They noted fringed sagebrush canopy coverage was reduced by both spring and fall burns. After an August, 1994, wildfire in northern dry mixed prairie in southeastern Alberta, fringed sagebrush appeared to decline in overall abundance. Pooled data from 1995 to 1997 show a decrease in estimates of fringed sagebrush's percent weight of total vegetation weight on burned sites relative to unburned sites for both upland and lowland areas :
Grassland sites burned by wildfire were compared the 1st year after burning to unburned sites in western North Dakota by Dix . His results show an increase in frequency of fringed sagebrush on the site burned in summer, but a decrease in frequency for sites burned in fall and spring.
After 24 years of annual spring burning in the aspen (Populus tremuloides) parklands of east-central Alberta, fringed sagebrush increased in both canopy cover and frequency . Increase in canopy cover was significant at P<0.05.
|Frequency, %||Canopy cover, %|
|Unburned (n=458)||Burned (n=458)||Unburned (n=458)||Burned (n=458)|
The Research Project Summary Seasonal fires in Saskatchewan rough fescue prairie provides information on prescribed fire use and postfire response of plains grassland community species including fringed sagebrush.FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
Fringed sagebrush is considered a "fair" forage species for domestic sheep by Hutchings . Dittberner and Olson  rate fringed sagebrush as good forage for domestic sheep in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming and fair in Montana and North Dakota. They rate fringed sagebrush as fair forage for horses in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming, and poor in Montana and North Dakota.
Many large game animals utilize fringed sagebrush throughout western United States and Canada. In a 1971 literature review, Bayless  discusses use of fringed sagebrush by big game in Montana. He summarized big game use of fringed sagebrush as:
|Species||Location||Season of use||Use|
Browse made up 50% of total volume in rumen samples with western snowberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis), silver sagebrush, and fringed sagebrush most important.
|winter||Big sagebrush, silver sagebrush and fringed sagebrush made up 93% of volume of the rumen samples.|
|spring||Big sagebrush and fringed sagebrush made up 65% of volume of rumen samples .|
|summer||Five forbs including fringed sagebrush, long-leaf sagebrush (A. longifolia), three-leafed milkvetch (Astragalus gilviflorus), alfalfa (Medicago sativa), and sweetclover (Melilotus officinalis) constituted 62% or more of the total use at feeding sites and averaged 35% of identifiable material in rumen samples .|
|elk||Gallatin Canyon||winter||3% of plant use |
|Crow Creek drainage, Elk Horn Mountains||winter||fringed sagebrush was a "significant plant" |
|white-tailed deer||Sun River||winter||Fringed sagebrush rated 7th among browse plants
utilized (total # browse plants not given) .
|Snowy Mountains||winter||Fringed sagebrush comprised 9% by volume of total winter diet .|
|bighorn sheep||Sun River||winter||Fringed sagebrush was 1 of the browse species that received "significant use ."|
|Gallatin Canyon||winter||Fringed sagebrush, a preferred food item, constituted 9% of the diet .|
Importance of key winter forage plants for British Columbia ungulates is ranked by Blower . His results for fringed sagebrush are:
|Species||coast deer||mule deer||white-tailed deer||mountain goat||bighorn sheep||Roosevelt elk||Rocky Mountain elk||moose||caribou|
Bison in northeastern Colorado browsed fringed sagebrush in March and October. In March on a pasture that had been "heavily" browsed by cattle, fringed sagebrush was 20.2 % of the bison diet with a standard error of 13.6. In October it was 11.3 % with a standard error of 5.6 .
Food habits of Rocky Mountain elk in the northern Great Plains were studied by Wydeven and Dahlgren  in Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota. They found fringed sagebrush was an "important" or "major" plant in the diet of Rocky Mountain elk in fall, winter, and spring. Percent of fringed sagebrush in elk rumen contents, along with standard deviation, from July, 1976, to August, 1977 was:
|Fall (n=6)||Winter (n=11)||Spring (n=4)||Summer (n=9)|
|0.5 ± 0.8||3.8 ± 4.9||9.3 ± 5.6||0.4 ± 0.7|
In a literature review of Rocky Mountain mule deer foods, Kufeld and others  rated deer use of fringed sagebrush as "moderate" in winter and "light" in spring and fall.
Bartman  utilized tame mule deer to determine diet of mule deer in pinyon (Pinus spp.)/juniper (Juniperus spp.)/mixed shrub winter range during a 2-year experiment in Colorado. Fringed sagebrush was used most heavily by mule deer in February and March during both years. No use or only trace amounts were noted in the remaining winter months. Currie and others  also utilized tame mule deer in a Colorado study in managed ponderosa pine habitats to determine if diets of mule deer and cattle were in competition. Their results indicate mule deer utilize fringed sagebrush during the growing season, not just winter months. Fringed sagebrush was ranked 9th of 129 species grazed by mule deer and percentage of total diet of fringed sagebrush by month was:
Bayless  studied pronghorn winter diet in Montana. He found pronghorn utilized fringed sagebrush more than would be expected when compared to percentage of total vegetation available in February and March:
|9 feeding sites||12 feeding sites||7 feeding sites|
|instances of use||% of diet||% of vegetation available||instances of use||% of diet||% of vegetation available||instances of use||% of diet||% of vegetation available|
As part of the same study, Bayless  analyzed contents of 18 pronghorn rumen samples collected during the winter of 1966/1967. Frequency of occurrence and volume of plant taxa, both in percentages, for fringed sagebrush were:
In a 1963 study of pronghorn diet at 2 sites in Saskatchewan, Dirschl  analyzed rumens of pronghorns and determined they utilized fringed sagebrush year-round. His results, presented as percent of diet by weight, were:
|site 1||site 2||site 1||site 2||site 1||site 2||site 1||site 2|
Fringed sagebrush is also important to small game and nongame mammals. White-tailed jackrabbits in Colorado utilize fringed sagebrush in spring and autumn. Fringed sagebrush composes 15% of their spring diet and is an "important" part of their fall diet . Also in Colorado, Hansen and Gold (1977)  observed black-tailed prairie dogs from June, 1973, to June, 1975, and desert cottontails from June, 1974, to June, 1975, as part of a study to determine competition with cattle for food. Fringed sagebrush was not part of the cattle's diet but the researchers reported fringed sagebrush to be part of the diet of both black-tailed prairie dogs and desert cottontails. Fringed sagebrush was one of the "most important" food items for black-tailed prairie dogs and made up 8% of their total diet. Fringed sagebrush made up 15% of the total diet of desert cottontails. Their results expressed as an average (± Standard Error) percentage of seasonal diets were:
|Spring (April-May)||Summer (June-August)||Fall (September-November)||Winter (December-March)|
|Black-tailed prairie dogs||5 ± 2||<1||5 ± 2||21 ± 4|
|Desert cottontails||9 ± 3||<1||12 ± 5||40 ± 5|
Sage-grouse and greater prairie-chickens utilize fringed sagebrush as both adults and juveniles. Food habits of greater sage-grouse in central Montana were studied by Peterson  during the summers of 1966 and 1968. Fringed sagebrush was 1 of the 5 most utilized plants and began to appear in the diet of sage-grouse chicks when they were 4 weeks old but only as a trace. Use of fringed sagebrush increased until the chicks were 11 to 12 weeks old.
Use of fringed sagebrush by adult sage-grouse occurred in August and September. Percent frequency and volume of fringed sagebrush in the diet of adult sage-grouse for these 2 months were:
|August (n = 18)||September (n = 14)|
Another study of sage-grouse in central Montana  observed food habits of adult sage-grouse. Use of fringed sagebrush began in March and continued through November. Percent frequency and volume of fringed sagebrush in 299 sage-grouse crops was:
|April (n = 22)||May (n = 24)||June (n = 18)||July (n = 45)||Aug. (n = 26)||Sept. (n = 29)||Oct. (n = 13)||Nov. (n = 21)||Total (n = 299)|
In a study of greater prairie-chicken food habits on the Sheyenne National Grasslands in North Dakota, Rumble and others  found fringed sagebrush was part of greater prairie-chicken brood diets. Adult birds utilized fringed sagebrush in both winter and summer. Percent composition and standard error of fringed sagebrush in adult greater prairie-chickens diet was :
|December (n=7)||January (n=49)||February (n=63)||April (n=45)||May (n=88)||June (n=39)||July (n=44)||August (n=27)|
|0||4.0 ± 1.9||10.7 ± 2.7||7.9 ± 2.4||8.7 ± 2.2||0.9 ± 0.4||0.3 ± 0.3||0.3 ± 0.1|
In Wind Cave National Park, Forde  found higher vesper sparrow numbers were associated with several plants, including fringed sagebrush.
Palatability/nutritional value: Because of its range and diverse habitats, fringed sagebrush varies considerably in its value as forage for livestock. Brand and Goetz  rate fringed sagebrush as unpalatable to cattle. In North Dakota, Hooper and Nesbitt  state fringed sagebrush is bitter and the least palatable forage in the mixed-prairie. Stock will not begin to eat it until other forage becomes scarce. However, in the Southwest, fringed sagebrush rates "fairly good" in palatability for cattle and "very good" for domestic sheep and goats, especially during winter and spring. It is highly prized for domestic sheep forage during lambing season .
In a 1946 study of white-tailed deer diet in the Black Hills of South Dakota, Hill  ranked palatability of fringed sagebrush for the 4 seasons as:
|January to March||April to June||July to September||October to December|
Nutritional value of fringed sagebrush for wildlife in some western states is rated :
|Upland game birds||good||--||fair||fair||poor|
|Small nongame birds||fair||--||fair||fair||--|
Fringed sagebrush is "moderately" nutritious and is more important for fattening than body-building or energy-producing feed. Chemical analysis of fringed sagebrush indicates it ranks with alfalfa hay in proportions of crude fiber and carbohydrates and contains about 4 times as much fat, 1/2 the ash and 2/3rds as much protein as alfalfa .
Fringed sagebrush collected over base-metal deposits in Precambrian rocks of west-central Colorado showed the following concentrations of elements when the ash was analyzed :
Dietz  discusses fringed sagebrush as part of a study to determine nutritive value of shrubs in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Seasonal values of nutrients for stems and leaves of fringed sagebrush, oven-dry basis, were:
|Crude protein (%)||16.4||12.4||9.3||7.6|
|Acid-detergent fiber (%)||32.7||35.5||35.7||36.0|
|Acid-detergent lignin (%)||5.3||9.3||12.1||17.4|
|Seasonal gross energy (cal/g)||4,737||5,022||5,068||4,852|
He also describes dry matter and nutritive production of fringed sagebrush in fall on a deer range in the Black Hills :
|Dry matter production||Crude protein||Gross energy|
Dittberner and Olson  rate fringed sagebrush's cover value for
wildlife in some western states as generally low.
VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES:
Germination of fringed sagebrush differs between field and laboratory conditions with field germination lower than laboratory germination. Fringed sagebrush had an overall field germination rate of 8.9 ± 2.3% after being tested at 3 different sites in Montana for 3 years .
In a laboratory study of fringed sagebrush germination , heads of the achenes had to be threshed and extra plant material sifted and removed. No other pretreatment was necessary for germination. Cleaned seed of fringed sagebrush averages 3,875,000 per pound (8,545/gm) .
The achenes germinated very well over most of a range of temperatures from 63 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (17-24 oC) for 8 hours and 53 to 88 degrees Fahrenheit (11.5- 31 oC) for 16 hours. Temperatures of 93 degrees Fahrenheit (34 oC) or higher strongly depressed germination percentages and lengthened germination times. Optimum germination was at a constant temperature of approximately 63 degrees Fahrenheit (17 oC) with a mean germination time of 5.4 days, and alternating temperatures 56 to 75 degrees (13.5-17 oC) for 8 hours and 74 degrees Fahrenheit (23.5 oC) for 16 hours with a mean germination time of 5.3 days.
Harvey  utilized a temperature gradient bar for 14 days to measure percent germination of fringed sagebrush seeds. His results were:
|Temperature (oC)||Percent germination ± S.D.|
|6||47 ± 11.7|
|8||63 ± 17.1|
|10||79 ± 12.0|
|12||81 ± 10.0|
|14||77 ± 6.1|
|16||68 ± 6.3|
|18||57 ± 5.8|
|20||36 ± 9.8|
|22||33 ± 8.7|
|24||21 ± 8.9|
|26||9 ± 4.6|
|28||5 ± 5.5|
|30||1 ± 3.5|
Germination of fringed sagebrush achenes is "strikingly" affected by increase in moisture stress . Total percentage germination and time required to reach 75% of total germination at 7 levels of moisture stress with a constant temperature of 63 degrees Fahrenheit (17 oC) (n = 2) were:
|Water potential (bars)||Total germination (%)||Time to reach 75% of total germination (days)|
No response to either presence or absence of light was noted in germinating seeds of fringed sagebrush by Sabo and others . However, Wasser  states surface seeding of fringed sagebrush is beneficial because light induces greater germination where surface moisture is assured, e.g., with irrigation or where snowmelt extends for a few weeks.
Fringed sagebrush is well adapted to northerly cool climates and is especially useful for stabilization of disturbed soils . It can be used for soil stabilization during erosion control , because of its root system  (see General Botanical Characteristics).
Fringed sagebrush is 1 of the plants recommended by Rosentreter and Jorgenson  for restoring winter game range in southern Idaho. They state it has limited distribution in Idaho but would do well on cold sites and be a good pioneer on harsh sites.
Meier and Weaver  discuss use of native plants for roadside vegetation management in the northern Rocky Mountains. They conclude fringed sagebrush would grow best if seeded in Douglas-fir, shortgrass, or foothill bunchgrass types. It would do well in a ponderosa pine type and have least success if seeded in a mixed-grass type.
In North Dakota a study was done to observe number
of seedlings emerging from "prairie hay" when used as mulch to provide a seed
source for revegetating disturbed sites. Number of established fringed sagebrush
seedlings increased significantly (P<0.05) after the hay was stored for a year
Since fringed sagebrush increases in grazed pastures [30,87], it is often considered an indicator of overgrazing . As an example of this, in an early study (1960) of grazing effects in Colorado on short-grass range, average green forage production of fringed sagebrush in heavily grazed (60% by weight of current herbage growth of dominant forage grasses in 6 months) pastures was 26 pounds (11.8 kg); moderately grazed (40%) yielded 21 pounds (9.5 kg); and lightly grazed (20%) only produced 18 pounds (8.2 kg) of forage . However, Reed and Peterson  caution against indiscriminate use of fringed sagebrush as a range condition indicator. They feel abundance of fringed sagebrush may be related to weather, and considerable damage to the range from grazing may occur long before increases in fringed sagebrush are apparent.
Lovering and Hedal  investigated use of fringed sagebrush as a biogeochemical indicator species for base-metal deposits in Precambrian rocks in west-central Colorado. They concluded that because of its wide distribution, fringed sagebrush could be useful in mineral exploration since the chemical composition of fringed sagebrush may mirror composition of the soil where it grows.
Native Americans used fringed sagebrush in a variety of ways. The northern Cheyenne tribe wove fringed sagebrush into a braid and wore it like a head-band to treat nosebleed . In the Fort Yukon region of northeastern Alaska, native people boil leaves and stems of fringed sagebrush in water for bathing sore or painful feet. The steam is inhaled to relieve congestion and steam baths are used to soothe varicose veins. Leaves of fringed sagebrush are boiled in water to make a strong tea used for relief of colds or mixed with spruce pitch and applied to wounds .
Early settlers used fringed sagebrush to make a bitter tea which they believed was a tonic and remedy for typhoid fever .
Fringed sagebrush is used for landscaping because of its attractive, fine,
silvery-green foliage .
OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS:
Wasser  recommends using seed stock of fringed sagebrush from habitats similar to seeding site.
In a clipping experiment designed to simulate grazing in Colorado, Buwai and Trlica  found fringed sagebrush detrimentally affected by any 2 multiple defoliation treatments. Plants were most affected by heavy defoliation (90% of current year's growth removed) during rapid growth and near maturity. Effects were least severe when fringed sagebrush plants were moderately defoliated (60% of current year's growth removed) during the quiescence and rapid growth phenological stages. Plant vigor and herbage yields were less for all defoliated plants than for control plants. Root total nonstructural carbohydrates of fringed sagebrush were reduced by multiple defoliations except when plants were defoliated at a "moderate" level during quiescence and rapid growth. The authors conclude "complete rest from grazing during later phenological stages during some years may be required to maintain fringed sagebrush vigor, production, and carbohydrate reserve levels."
Hutchings  recommends 40% use of annual growth of fringed sagebrush by domestic sheep.
Herbicides: A 1970 review of herbicidal treatments for fringed sagebrush is provided by Ryerson and others .
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