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SPECIES: Artemisia ludoviciana



Br. Alfred Brousseau, Saint Mary's College
Anderson, Michelle D. 2005. Artemisia ludoviciana. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].


Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. typica Keck [65]
     = A. l. subsp. ludoviciana [34,63,64,131]
A. l. var. albula (Whoot.) Shinners [132]
     = A. l. subsp. albula [56,63,64,65,134]
A. l. var. gnaphaloides (Nutt.) Torr. & Grey [90]
       = A. l. subsp. ludoviciana [34,63,64,131]
A. l. var. incompta (Nutt.) Cronq. [34,58,132]
       = A. l. subsp. incompta [56,63,64,131]
A. l. var. latiloba (Bess.) Torr. & Grey [34,58,132]
       = A. l. subsp. candicans [56,63,64]
A. l. var. ludoviciana Nutt. [34,43,46,58,132]
       = A. l. subsp. ludoviciana[34,63,64,131]
A. l. var. mexicana (Willd.ex Spreg.) Grey [43,46,132]
        =A. l. subsp. mexicana [62,63,64,65]


For Artemisia ludoviciana:
white sagebrush
cudweed sagewort gray sagewort
green sagewort
prairie sage
mountain sagewort
white sagewort

For A. l. subsp. ludoviciana:
Louisiana sagewort

For A. l. subsp. mexicana:
Mexican white sagebrush

The currently accepted scientific name of white sagebrush is Artemisia ludoviciana Nutt. (Asteraceae) [33,43,46,56,58,62,63,64,65,90,103,131,132]. Recognized infrataxa are:

A. l. subsp. albula (Woot.) Keck [56,63,64,65,134]
A. l. subsp. candicans (Rydb.) Keck [56,63,64]
A. l. subsp. estesii Chambers [63]
A. l. subsp. incompta (Nutt.) Keck [56,63,64,131]
A. l. subsp. ludoviciana [34,63,64,131]
A. l. subsp. mexicana (Willd. ex Spreg.) Keck [62,63,64,65]
A. l. subsp. redolens (Gray) Keck
A. l. subsp. silcata (Rydb.) Keck [63,65]


No special status

White sagebrush is state-listed as threatened in Michigan [124].


SPECIES: Artemisia ludoviciana
White sagebrush is distributed from the Northwest Territories south through the Intermountain region of the United States to Mexico [33,34,43,46,56,58,62,63,64,65,90,103,131,132,134]. The range includes most of Canada and the United States east of the Rocky Mountains, except Alabama, Florida, and West Virginia. It is generally rare in Michigan [63]. In Delaware, white sagebrush is considered an adventive species; while native to the U.S., it is not native to that state [31]. Some subspecies of white sagebrush are more abundant and widespread (A. l. subsp. ludoviciana, A. l. subsp. albula, A. l. subsp. candicans, A. l. subsp. incompta, A. l. subsp. mexicana), while others are restricted to smaller geographic areas (A. l. subsp. estesii, A. l. subsp. redolens, A. l. subsp. silcata) [63,118]. Some subspecies may also be restricted to certain elevation ranges with their geographic distribution (i.e. A. l. subsp. incompta) [118]. Plants database provides a distributional map of white sagebrush and its infrataxa.

FRES14 Oak-pine
FRES15 Oak-hickory
FRES17 Elm-ash-cottonwood
FRES20 Douglas-fir
FRES21 Ponderosa pine
FRES23 Fir-spruce
FRES28 Western hardwoods
FRES29 Sagebrush
FRES30 Desert shrub
FRES34 Chaparral-mountain shrub
FRES35 Pinyon-juniper
FRES36 Mountain grasslands
FRES37 Mountain meadows
FRES38 Plains grasslands
FRES39 Prairie
FRES40 Desert grasslands
FRES44 Alpine

STATES/PROVINCES: (key to state/province abbreviations)
VT VA WA WI WY DC        


B.C.N. Chih. Son.

2 Cascade Mountains
3 Southern Pacific Border
4 Sierra Mountains
5 Columbia Plateau
6 Upper Basin and Range
7 Lower Basin and Range
8 Northern Rocky Mountains
9 Middle Rocky Mountains
10 Wyoming Basin
11 Southern Rocky Mountains
12 Colorado Plateau
13 Rocky Mountain Piedmont
14 Great Plains
15 Black Hills Uplift
16 Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

K005 Mixed conifer forest
K010 Ponderosa shrub forest
K012 Douglas-fir forest
K015 Western spruce-fir forest
K016 Eastern ponderosa forest
K017 Black Hills pine forest
K018 Pine-Douglas-fir forest
K019 Arizona pine forest
K021 Southwestern spruce-fir forest
K023 Juniper-pinyon woodland
K024 Juniper steppe woodland
K031 Oak-juniper woodland
K032 Transition between K031 and K037
K037 Mountain-mahogany-oak scrub
K038 Great Basin sagebrush
K039 Blackbrush
K040 Saltbush-greasewood
K050 Fescue-wheatgrass
K051 Wheatgrass-bluegrass
K052 Alpine meadows and barren
K055 Sagebrush steppe
K056 Wheatgrass-needlegrass shrubsteppe
K057 Galleta-threeawn shrubsteppe
K063 Foothills prairie
K064 Grama-needlegrass-wheatgrass
K065 Grama-buffalo grass
K066 Wheatgrass-needlegrass
K067 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass
K068 Wheatgrass-grama-buffalo grass
K069 Bluestem-grama prairie
K070 Sandsage-bluestem prairie
K074 Bluestem prairie
K075 Nebraska Sandhills prairie
K081 Oak savanna
K082 Mosaic of K074 and K100
K083 Cedar glades
K084 Cross Timbers
K086 Juniper-oak savanna
K089 Black Belt
K098 Northern floodplain forest
K100 Oak-hickory forest
K111 Oak-hickory-pine

14 Northern pin oak
40 Post oak-blackjack oak
42 Bur oak
43 Bear oak
44 Chestnut oak
46 Eastern redcedar
50 Black locust
51 White pine-chestnut oak
63 Cottonwood
66 Ashe juniper-redberry (Pinchot) juniper
76 Shortleaf pine-oak
78 Virginia pine-oak
80 Loblolly pine-shortleaf pine
110 Black oak
206 Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir
210 Interior Douglas-fir
217 Aspen
219 Limber pine
220 Rocky Mountain juniper
235 Cottonwood-willow
236 Bur oak
237 Interior ponderosa pine
238 Western juniper
239 Pinyon-juniper
240 Arizona cypress
241 Western live oak
243 Sierra Nevada mixed conifer
247 Jeffrey pine

101 Bluebunch wheatgrass
102 Idaho fescue
104 Antelope bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
105 Antelope bitterbrush-Idaho fescue
107 Western juniper/big sagebrush/bluebunch wheatgrass
108 Alpine Idaho fescue
109 Ponderosa pine shrubland
110 Ponderosa pine-grassland
203 Riparian woodland
207 Scrub oak mixed chaparral
208 Ceanothus mixed chaparral
209 Montane shrubland
210 Bitterbrush
212 Blackbush
213 Alpine grassland
215 Valley grassland
216 Montane meadows
301 Bluebunch wheatgrass-blue grama
302 Bluebunch wheatgrass-Sandberg bluegrass
303 Bluebunch wheatgrass-western wheatgrass
304 Idaho fescue-bluebunch wheatgrass
305 Idaho fescue-Richardson needlegrass
306 Idaho fescue-slender wheatgrass
307 Idaho fescue-threadleaf sedge
308 Idaho fescue-tufted hairgrass
309 Idaho fescue-western wheatgrass
310 Needle-and-thread-blue grama
311 Rough fescue-bluebunch wheatgrass
312 Rough fescue-Idaho fescue
314 Big sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
315 Big sagebrush-Idaho fescue
316 Big sagebrush-rough fescue
317 Bitterbrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
318 Bitterbrush-Idaho fescue
319 Bitterbrush-rough fescue
320 Black sagebrush-bluebunch wheatgrass
321 Black sagebrush-Idaho fescue
322 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany-bluebunch wheatgrass
323 Shrubby cinquefoil-rough fescue
324 Threetip sagebrush-Idaho fescue
401 Basin big sagebrush
402 Mountain big sagebrush
403 Wyoming big sagebrush
404 Threetip sagebrush
405 Black sagebrush
406 Low sagebrush
407 Stiff sagebrush
408 Other sagebrush types
409 Tall forb
410 Alpine rangeland
411 Aspen woodland
412 Juniper-pinyon woodland
413 Gambel oak
414 Salt desert shrub
415 Curlleaf mountain-mahogany
416 True mountain-mahogany
417 Littleleaf mountain-mahogany
420 Snowbrush
421 Chokecherry-serviceberry-rose
422 Riparian
501 Saltbush-greasewood
503 Arizona chaparral
504 Juniper-pinyon pine woodland
509 Transition between oak-juniper woodland and mahogany-oak association
601 Bluestem prairie
602 Bluestem-prairie sandreed
603 Prairie sandreed-needlegrass
604 Bluestem-grama prairie
605 Sandsage prairie
606 Wheatgrass-bluestem-needlegrass
607 Wheatgrass-needlegrass
608 Wheatgrass-grama-needlegrass
609 Wheatgrass-grama
610 Wheatgrass
611 Blue grama-buffalo grass
612 Sagebrush-grass
613 Fescue grassland
614 Crested wheatgrass
709 Bluestem-grama
710 Bluestem prairie
715 Grama-buffalo grass
717 Little bluestem-Indiangrass-Texas wintergrass
720 Sand bluestem-little bluestem (dunes)
721 Sand bluestem-little bluestem (plains)
722 Sand sagebrush-mixed prairie
724 Sideoats grama-New Mexico feathergrass-winterfat
731 Cross timbers-Oklahoma
732 Cross timbers-Texas (little bluestem-post oak)
733 Juniper-oak
801 Savanna
802 Missouri prairie
803 Missouri glades
804 Tall fescue
805 Riparian

White sagebrush occurs is a broadly distributed species that occurs in a wide range of plant communities. Associates in communities where white sagebrush is most common are briefly identified below, followed by a discussion of plant communities in which white sagebrush occurs as a dominant.

Sagebrush ecosystems: White sagebrush commonly occurs in sagebrush (Artemisia subsp.) communities. Shrub and tree associates include big sagebrush (A. tridentata), black sagebrush (A. nova), fringed sagebrush (A. frigida), shadscale saltbush (Atriplex confertifolia), curlleaf mountain-mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius), rubber rabbitbrush (Chrysothamnus nauseosus), green rabbitbrush (C. viscidiflorus), antelope bitterbrush (Purshia tridentata), Rocky mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum), western juniper (J. occidentalis), interior ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum), Jeffrey pine (P. jeffreyi), and several oaks (Quercus spp.). Herbaceous understory associates include Indian ricegrass (Achnatherum hymenoides), blue grama (Bouteloua gracilis), buckwheat (Eriogonum spp.), ephedra (Ephedra spp.), Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis), rough fescue (Festuca altaica), needle-and-thread grass (Hesperostipa comata), prairie Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha), western wheatgrass (Pascopyrum smithii), Sandberg bluegrass (Poa secunda), plains bluegrass (P. arida), and bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata) [37,72,115].

Chaparral-mountain shrub ecosystems: Common tree and shrub associates in these plant communities include alligator juniper (J. deppeana), oneseed juniper (J. monosperma), Utah juniper (J. osteosperma), Mexican pinyon (Pinus cembroides), Arizona white oak (Q. arizonica), canyon live oak (Q. chrysolepis), Emory oak (Q. emoryi), Gambel oak (Q. gambelii), silverleaf oak (Q. hypoleucoides), Mexican blue oak (Q. oblongifolia), shrub live oak (Q. turbinella), interior live oak (Q. wislizenii), chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum), manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.), ceanothus (Ceanothus spp.), bush chinquapin (Chrysolepsis sempervirens), curlleaf mountain-mahogany , birchleaf mountain-mahogany (C. betuloides), bigtooth maple (Acer grandidentatum), and bittercherry (Prunus emarginata). Understory associates include sideoats grama (B. curtipendula), hairy grama (B. hirsuta), and eastern Mojave buckwheat (Eriogonum fasciculatum) [37,72,115].

Plains grasslands: White sagebrush is particularly common in plains and prairie grassland communities. In plains grasslands, associates include Indian ricegrass, crested wheatgrass (Agropyron cristatum), desert wheatgrass (A. desertorum), big bluestem (Andropogon gerardii var. gerardii), sand bluestem (A. g. var. paucipilus), blue grama, sideoats grama, hairy grama, black grama (B. eriopoda), buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides), prairie sandreed (Calamovilfa longifolia), oatgrass (Danthonia spp.), Canada wildrye (Elymus canadensis), thickspike wheatgrass (E. lanceolatus), rough fescue, prairie Junegrass, needle-and-thread grass, porcupine grass (H. spartea), green needlegrass (Nassella viridula), tobosa (Pleuraphis mutica), Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis), western wheatgrass, bluebunch wheatgrass, little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), and alkali sacaton (Sporobolus airoides). Woody plants commonly occurring in these communities include fringed sagebrush, sand sagebrush (Artemisia filifolia), fourwing saltbush (Atriplex canescens), Ashe juniper (J. ashei), eastern redcedar (J. virginiana) winterfat (Krascheninnikovia lanata ), blackjack oak (Q. marilandica), post oak (Q. stellata), and live oak (Q. virginiana) [72,115].

Prairie grasslands: In prairie communities, common associates include threeawns (Aristida spp.), big bluestem, sand bluestem, blue grama, hairy grama, sideoats grama, buffalo grass, prairie sandreed, needle-and-thread grass, porcupine grass, prairie Junegrass, switchgrass (Panicum virgatum), little bluestem, indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans), prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis), and giant dropseed (S. giganteus). Common woody associates are big sagebrush, black sagebrush, sand sagebrush, rubber rabbitbrush, green rabbitbrush, winterfat, saltbushes (Atriplex spp.), hickories (Carya spp.), eastern redcedar, eastern cottonwood (Populus deltoides), post oak, blackjack oak, and black oak (Q. velutina) [37,72,115].

White sagebrush usually occurs in scattered amounts and does not dominate extensive areas [118], though it may form dense stands locally in grassland communities [36]. White sagebrush may be dominant in Wyoming, commonly codominating forb communities with tobacco root (Valeriana edulis) [24,47]. This forb community is often found near subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) habitat types. Other associates in the white sagebrush-tobacco root community type are Idaho fescue, Rocky Mountain goldenrod (Solidago multiradiata), thickstem aster (Eurybia integrifolia), sulphur-flower buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum), slender cinquefoil (Potentilla gracilis), elkweed (Frasera speciosa), and spike trisetum (Trisetum spicatum) [47]. In Alberta, white sagebrush may codominate with western wheatgrass. Other common associates in this community are riverbank sedge (Carex stenoptila), Kentucky bluegrass, curlycup gumweed (Grindelia squarrosa), and desert goosefoot (Chenopodium pratericola) [128]. White sagebrush is noted as a "differential species" in mixed-grass (Kentucky bluegrass dominant) and tallgrass (big bluestem dominant) prairie communities. In the mixed-grass community, other associates include western wheatgrass and smooth brome (Bromus inermis), while little bluestem is common in the tallgrass community [85].

Vegetation classifications identifying white sagebrush as a plant community dominant are listed below:

Alberta [128]
Wyoming [24,47]


SPECIES: Artemisia ludoviciana
This description provides characteristics that may be relevant to fire ecology, and is not meant for identification. Keys for identification are available (e.g. [56,58,65]).

White sagebrush is a native perennial forb or small shrub [103,119]. Stems seldom branch and are loosely clustered or solitary [59,119,131]. Though generally erect [119], alpine subspecies (e.g., A. l. subsp. incompta) may be decumbent compared to the more upright forms found at lower elevations [118]. White sagebrush grows 0.5 to 3 feet (0.15-1.0 m) tall [43,46,56,103,119,132] and has alternate, irregularly toothed leaves [119]. The inflorescence is a narrow, open to dense panicle reaching 2 to 12 inches (5-30 cm) in length. The many nodding flower heads are <7 mm in diameter [56,132]. Seeds are small achenes [123].

White sagebrush is often densely aggregated in pure stands 6.5 to 10 feet (2-3 m) in diameter, with all stalks connected by underground stems or rhizomes [36,56,59,69,96,103,119,131] that thicken with age. White sagebrush rhizomes and dense, coarse roots are generally found between 1 and 5.5 inches (2.5-14 cm) deep [96,118]. Root branching in the fibrous root system is so interlaced that a firm mesh forms in the upper 2 inches (5 cm) of soil [96,113]. White sagebrush roots may reach 27.5 inches (70 cm) deep [143].

Roots may be colonized by mycorrhizae [136]; when colonized, ramet growth rates and biomass are reduced, resulting in a reduction in size and density of white sagebrush [137]. Root nodulation is inconsistent [38,118,139], and it is difficult to confirm any significant degree of nitrogen fixation [118].


White sagebrush reproduces both vegetatively and by seed, with vegetative reproduction very common [54].

Breeding system: White sagebrush is monoecious [118].

Pollination: White sagebrush is self- and wind pollinated [57,118].

Seed production: Most subspecies produce seed "adequately" [118]. The outer florets of white sagebrush are usually sterile, while the inner florets are usually fertile [119].

Seed dispersal: White sagebrush seeds are spread by wind, gravity, and water [123].

Seed banking: white sagebrush seed can last 4 to 6 years in warehouse storage [114]. As of this writing (2005), there is no information on viability of soil-stored seed.

Germination: No information is available on this topic. For information on artificial germination of white sagebrush, see Management Considerations.

Seedling establishment/growth: White sagebrush dies back at the end of the season, so annual production is equivalent to total aboveground mass at the end of the growing season [54,118].

Asexual regeneration: White sagebrush forms new aerial shoots from the bases of earlier shoots and from slender horizontal rhizomes [93,98]. Some subspecies reproduce aggressively by spreading rhizomes, while others express weaker rhizomes [118,123]. When strongly rhizomatous, white sagebrush can form colonies up to 50 feet (15 m) in diameter. A study in Montana found that on wet sites colonies advanced in all directions, but on dry sites colonies increased in diameter only in wet microsites (e.g. drainage depressions) [54].

Due to its broad geographical distribution, white sagebrush is found on a wide range of sites. It grows on upland areas including rangeland, pastures, roadsides, shrublands, and open woods [87,119], as well as in valley bottoms [29], riparian areas [51,87] and other moist or mesic sites [28,78]. On drier sites in plains grassland or sagebrush communities, white sagebrush may be restricted to more mesic streambanks and floodplains [28,78,101]. In field experiments, white sagebrush was "somewhat tolerant" of periodic flooding [83,84].

White sagebrush is found on a wide range of soil types [118,119]. It is common on sandy to gravelly or stony sites, including scree slopes and rockslides [56,87,131,141]. White sagebrush is frequently found on exposed ridges and sites free of snow accumulation [118]. It is also found on silty soils, and may occur on soils with high lime content, though not abundantly [106].

The following table presents the elevational range of white sagebrush in the western United States:

California 11,500 feet (<3500 m) [56,87]
Colorado 3,500-10,000 ft (1,060-3,050 m) [52]
Nevada 2,500-9,500 ft (760-2,900 m) [64]
New Mexico 7,200-8,700 ft (2,200-2,600 m) [50]
Utah 2,460-11,500 ft (750-3,500 m) [132]

White sagebrush is generally more abundant on sites subject to infrequent disturbance. Though found on both disturbed and undisturbed sites, Iverson and Wali [60] found that white sagebrush was more prevalent on unmined areas than on mined areas. It increased in abundance over 17 years of succession on a Nebraska big bluestem-little bluestem prairie. During that time, sites were subject to some disturbance (4 years of grazing and at least 2 fires) [97]. White sagebrush may, however, form dense stands on recently disturbed sites [36,118]. It is frequently more prevalent following fire or clearing practices that reduce the dominant species. White sagebrush density may slowly diminish as other species recover and re-emerge where openings form [118]. Though often present and sometimes dominant in the initial (forb) stages of succession following fire [50,89,118], other studies demonstrate greater density and cover of white sagebrush on unburned sites [94,122]. A comparison of unburned sites and annually burned sites in tallgrass prairie found that white sagebrush dominated vegetation on the unburned sites [122].

Stem growth of white sagebrush occurs from April to mid-May [54]. White sagebrush flowers from June to October [36,54,54,114,119], with seed maturation and dissemination from October through December [36,54,114]. Winter dormancy lasts from October through late March [54].


SPECIES: Artemisia ludoviciana
Fire adaptations: When top-killed by fire, white sagebrush may sprout from the bases of shoots and from rhizomes [93,98]. Some subspecies reproduce aggressively by spreading rhizomes, while others have weaker rhizomes [118].

Fire regimes: White sagebrush is found in a wide variety of habitat types and plant communities, so fire regimes also vary widely. No specific information regarding the interaction between white sagebrush and different fire regimes was found in the available literature. However, based on prescribed fire studies, frequent fire may substantially reduce white sagebrush on a site. For more information on the effects of frequent burning, see Fire Management Considerations.

The following list provides fire return intervals for plant communities and ecosystems where white sagebrush occurs. It may not be inclusive. 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 [71,100]
Nebraska sandhills prairie A. g. var. paucipilus-Schizachyrium scoparium < 10 [100]
silver sagebrush steppe Artemisia cana 5-45 [55,102,138]
sagebrush steppe A. tridentata/Pseudoroegneria spicata 20-70 [100]
basin big sagebrush A. t. var. tridentata 12-43 [110]
mountain big sagebrush A. t. var. vaseyana 15-40 [6,20,88]
Wyoming big sagebrush A. t. var. wyomingensis 10-70 (40**) [126,142]
saltbush-greasewood Atriplex confertifolia-Sarcobatus vermiculatus < 35 to < 100
desert grasslands Bouteloua eriopoda and/or Pleuraphis mutica 5-100 [100]
plains grasslands Bouteloua spp. < 35 [100,138]
blue grama-needle-and-thread grass-western wheatgrass B. gracilis-Hesperostipa comata-Pascopyrum smithii < 35 [100,107,138]
blue grama-buffalo grass B. g.-Buchloe dactyloides < 35 [100,138]
California montane chaparral Ceanothus and/or Arctostaphylos spp. 50-100 [100]
curlleaf mountain-mahogany* Cercocarpus ledifolius 13-1,000 [8,111]
mountain-mahogany-Gambel oak scrub C. l.-Quercus gambelii < 35 to < 100
blackbrush Coleogyne ramosissima < 35 to < 100
Arizona cypress Cupressus arizonica < 35 to 200
juniper-oak savanna Juniperus ashei-Quercus virginiana < 35
Ashe juniper J. ashei < 35
western juniper J. occidentalis 20-70
Rocky Mountain juniper J. scopulorum < 35 [100]
cedar glades J. virginiana 3-22 [49,100]
wheatgrass plains grasslands Pascopyrum smithii < 5-47+ [100,102,138]
Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir Picea engelmannii-Abies lasiocarpa 35 to > 200 [5]
pinyon-juniper Pinus-Juniperus spp. < 35 [100]
Mexican pinyon P. cembroides 20-70 [91,120]
Colorado pinyon P. edulis 10-400+ [40,45,66,100]
Jeffrey pine P. jeffreyi 5-30 [5]
interior ponderosa pine* P. ponderosa var. scopulorum 2-30 [5,10,75]
Arizona pine P. p. var. arizonica 2-15 [10,27,112]
eastern cottonwood Populus deltoides < 35 to 200 [100]
quaking aspen (west of the Great Plains) P. tremuloides 7-120 [5,48,82]
mountain grasslands Pseudoroegneria spicata 3-40 (10**) [4,5]
Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir* Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca 25-100 [5,6,7]
California mixed evergreen P. m. var. menziesii-Lithocarpus densiflorus-Arbutus menziesii < 35
California oakwoods Quercus spp. < 35 [5]
oak-hickory Quercus-Carya spp. < 35 [129]
oak-juniper woodland (Southwest) Quercus-Juniperus spp. < 35 to < 200 [100]
northern pin oak Q. ellipsoidalis < 35
bear oak Q. ilicifolia < 35 [129]
California black oak Q. kelloggii 5-30 [100]
bur oak Q. macrocarpa < 10
oak savanna Q. m./Andropogon gerardii-Schizachyrium scoparium 2-14 [100,129]
chestnut oak Q. prinus 3-8
post oak-blackjack oak Q. stellata-Q. marilandica < 10
black oak Q. velutina < 35 [129]
interior live oak Q. wislizenii < 35 [5]
little bluestem-grama prairie Schizachyrium scoparium-Bouteloua spp. < 35 [100]
elm-ash-cottonwood Ulmus-Fraxinus-Populus spp. < 35 to 200 [35,129]
*fire return interval varies widely; trends in variation are noted in the species review

Rhizomatous low woody plant, rhizome in organic mantle
Rhizomatous shrub, rhizome in soil"


SPECIES: Artemisia ludoviciana
White sagebrush is presumably top-killed fire. Following a prescribed burn in a Saskatchewan rough fescue prairie, white sagebrush was substantially reduced by fire [3].

No additional information is available on this topic.

White sagebrush may sprout from rhizomes following fire [93,98], and increases in density and percent cover may occur after burning [41,74].

Perennial forbs in grassland communities may be favored by fall fires [16]. White sagebrush density and frequency have demonstrated increases following fall and winter fires [3,16,121]. Following an autumn burn in a Saskatchewan rough fescue prairie, density of white sagebrush nearly recovered to the control plot levels (23.7 stems/m) by the end of the 2nd growing season, reaching 20.3 stems/m; however, density on the spring and summer burn plots was much lower (9.7 and 3.3 stems/m, respectively) [3]. On a little bluestem mixed-grass prairie site in South Dakota, white sagebrush density increased with fall, spring, and summer burns, although only the fall burn significantly (p<0.05) increased density [16]. After 8 years of annual burning during different seasons in northeastern Kansas, frequency of white sagebrush increased with fall and winter burning but decreased with spring burning on both upland and lowland tallgrass (big bluestem-little bluestem-indiangrass) prairie sites [121].

Response of white sagebrush percent cover to fire is inconsistent. In a Kansas big bluestem-little bluestem-indiangrass prairie, white sagebrush percent cover decreased with burning during any season on upland sites and with spring burning on lowland sites after 8 years of burning during different seasons. On lowlands, percent cover increased with fall and winter burning [121]. In an Alberta rough fescue-porcupine grass grassland, canopy cover of white sagebrush increased in the 1st postburn growing season following both a spring and a fall burn [9]. Becker [13] also describes an increase in foliage after spring burning in a Minnesota big bluestem-prairie dropseed community. In an Arizona Santa Catalina Mountain Madrean oak community dominated by Emory oak, Mexican blue oak, and Arizona white oak, another study found a strong increase in white sagebrush cover following burning, with cover continuing to increase for 3 years after fire. The table below details changes in white sagebrush percent cover for 2 seasons following a June 1983 burn [21]:

  Spring 1984 Fall 1985
Aspect Unburned Burned Unburned Burned
south 4.12 1.89 2.89 6.82
east 0.72 2.85 0.62 5.83
north 0.67 1.96 1.07 7.63

A study of prescribed fire on green needlegrass-western wheatgrass plains grassland sites in North Dakota found no consistent postfire effect on white sagebrush cover [67].

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 white sagebrush.

Frequent fire and fire combined with grazing can substantially reduce white sagebrush cover [25,26,127]. A study in Arizona chaparral recorded the following pounds per acre (oven-dry basis) of white sagebrush and its percent contribution to herbage production on burned plots before and after burning [99]:

  North slopes South slopes
Prefire (1970) Postfire (1971) Prefire (1970) Postfire (1970)
lb/acre (kg/ha) 50 (56) 39 (44) 111 (125) 67 (75)
% production 4 2 9 4

One northeastern Kansas prescribed fire study in a big bluestem-little bluestem-Kentucky bluegrass community found that annual burning substantially reduced cover of white sagebrush compared to 4-year-burn interval or no-burn treatments [26]. Other prescribed fire studies have demonstrated that frequent fire and fire combined with grazing significantly reduced (p<0.05) white sagebrush cover on tallgrass prairie sites [1,25]. A study in northeastern Kansas tallgrass prairie (big bluestem-indiangrass-little bluestem-switchgrass) confirmed these effects, finding that white sagebrush had higher relative cover on grazed, infrequently burned sites than on grazed sites in frequently burned areas. White sagebrush had 3% to 10% cover on ungrazed, infrequently burned areas, but <1% cover on ungrazed, frequently burned sites [127]. In contrast, white sagebrush had significantly (p<0.05) greater frequency in burned areas than unburned areas after 13 years of annual burning in a Minnesota northern pin oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis) community [133].


SPECIES: Artemisia ludoviciana
White sagebrush may be very important summer forage for pronghorn [11]. Though it is not preferred [81], white-tailed deer graze white sagebrush in winter [11]. It is also lightly browsed by mule deer [68,73,95], especially in the fall and winter [77,79,135]. Elk graze white sagebrush [95], and this plant may be of particular importance as elk forage in the Northern Great Plains. One study found white sagebrush comprised 40% to 50% of elk rumen content in the fall and winter [140]. However, it probably does not cure well; wintering animals normally consume only green tissue [118].

Greater sage-grouse use white sagebrush for summer food and cover [105,130].

White sagebrush is an important food source for grasshoppers [70]. It is an almost exclusive host for the specialist grasshopper Hypochlora alba [17,18,69,76]. It is also the only known host of the fruit fly Eutreta simplex [44].

Palatability/nutritional value: White sagebrush palatability has been rated poor to fair for domestic cattle, sheep, and horses in Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. Palatability domestic sheep is rated good in Utah [32].

A study by Bezeau and Johnston [15] found 5.8% average digestible protein in white sagebrush samples. The table below summarizes chemical analysis of white sagebrush from Arizona chaparral [125]:

Crude protein (%) Ca (%) P (%)
9 0.64 0.32

Average chemical composition of white sagebrush in Alberta rough fescue grassland at 3 different stages of white sagebrush growth is summarized in the following table [61]:

Stage of growth Protein (%) Crude fat (%) Crude fiber (%) Ca (%) P (%) Carotene mg/kg)
leaf 15.40 2.85 25.20 0.90 0.23 42.75
heading 10.55 5.10 26.80 0.90 0.17 37.40
seed-ripe 8.87 4.30 29.17 0.97 0.16 25.30

Cover value: Cover value of white sagebrush has been rated poor to fair for big game animals, upland game birds, nongame birds, and waterfowl. It has been rated as good cover for small mammals in Utah, though rated poor elsewhere [32].

White sagebrush establishes well from cuttings, transplants, and direct seeding [118]. It is recommended for revegetating riparian areas in forest, mountain brush, sagebrush, and desert shrub communities [92], and is considered useful for revegetating roadcuts and for erosion control [54,98]. The dense root mass is good for reducing erosion and encourages other species to invade the stabilized space [118]. Field studies suggest a high degree of success can be expected with white sagebrush transplanting [116], and stalks may grow 3 feet (1 m) tall by the end of summer after spring transplanting [96]. If seeded, white sagebrush may establish in greater density when seeded with perennial grass mixtures [23].

White sagebrush seeds germinate well in the laboratory at 59-77 oF (15-25 oC) [86]. Eddleman [36] found germination was highest at both 68 oF (20 oC) constant and 68/41 oF (20/5 oC) alternating temperatures, with germination improved by 3-month stratification. Other laboratory experiments conducted at 59 oF have found up to 95% germination in petri dishes, and 69% germination in soil tests. On filter paper, the following germination rates were achieved at different temperatures [54]:

Temperature Germination (%)
59 oF (15 oC) 56
68 oF (20 oC) 87
72 oF (22 oC) 90

One laboratory analysis, however, found seed viability of white sagebrush was only 34.6% [23].

Native Americans burned white sagebrush for incense [119] and ceremonial purposes [53,109]. Other Native American uses included roofing houses and wattling walls [12]. In cooking, they used white sagebrush to flavor meat [22].

Native American medicinal uses included treatment for sore throats, stomach ailments, and difficulty in childbirth [109,119]. White sagebrush leaves were also crushed and used as snuff to treat sinus attacks, nosebleeds, and headaches [53]. Tea made with white sagebrush was used in Mexican traditional medicine to alleviate intestinal pain [108]. An essential oil extracted from white sagebrush (A. l. subsp. mexicana) has been demonstrated to give symptomatic relief of diarrhea [144]. Extracts of white sagebrush have antifungal properties [80].

While some authors report increased white sagebrush growth in response to grazing [2,119], others have found white sagebrush in substantially lower density on grazed sites than on ungrazed sites [19]. Based on clipping experiments, low tolerance of white sagebrush to grazing is expected, because grazing reduces shoot growth rates as well as the number and length of shoot branches per ramet. However, white sagebrush may produce more rhizomes in response to defoliation [30].

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