Sage Brush (Artemisia tridentata)

Seriphidium tridentatum. (Nutt.)W.A.Weber.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Sage Brush
Artemisia tridentata

An infusion of the leaves is used as a hair rinse, it treats dandruff and falling hair[84, 106, 168].

An infusion of the plant repels insects[99], it is also disinfectant and so is used for washing walls, floors etc[99].

A yellow to gold dye is obtained from the leaves, buds and stems combined[168].

The fibrous bark is used for weaving mats, baskets, cloth etc., or as a stuffing material in pillows etc and as an insulation in shoes to keep the feet warm[99, 257]. A fibre obtained from the inner bark is used for making paper[189]. The fibres are about 1.3mm long[189]. The stems are harvested in late summer, the leaves removed and the stems steamed until the fibre can be stripped off. The fibre is then cooked for two hours with lye before being ball milled for 4 hours. The resulting paper is a light tan/gold colour[189].

A bunch of the leafy stems can be tied together and used as a broom[257].

The shredded bark is a fine tinder for starting fires[99, 257].

The stems make good friction sticks for making fires[257].

The seeds are used during celebrations because, when thrown into a fire, they explode like crackers[257].

Wood – hard, dense[229]. It burns rapidly and well, even when green, and has a pleasant aromatic smell[212].

  • Medicinal Use

    Sage brush was widely employed by many native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a wide range of disorders[257]. It is little used in modern herbalism, though it certainly merits further investigation[K].

    The plant is antirheumatic, antiseptic, digestive, disinfectant, febrifuge, ophthalmic, poultice and sedative[46, 61, 99, 257]. A decoction of the leaves is used in the treatment of digestive disorders and sore throats[216, 257]. An infusion of the fresh or dried leaves is used to treat pneumonia, bad colds with coughing and bronchitis[257]. It is used both internally and externally in the treatment of rheumatism[257]. The crushed plant is used as a liniment on cuts, sores etc whilst a decoction of the leaves is used as an antiseptic wash for cuts, wounds and sores[257]. A poultice of the steeped leaves is applied to sore eyes[257]. The plant is burnt in the house in order to disinfect it[257].

  • Edible Use

    Leaves – cooked[61]. The subspecies A. tridentata vaseyana has a pleasant mint-like aroma whilst some other subspecies are very bitter and pungent[164]. The leaves are used as a condiment and to make a tea[257].

    Seed – raw or cooked. Oily[46, 61]. It can be roasted then ground into a powder and mixed with water or eaten raw[84, 106, 161, 257]. The seed is very small and fiddly to use[K].

  • Cautionary Notes

    Although no reports of toxicity have been seen for this species, skin contact with some members of this genus can cause dermatitis or other allergic reactions in some people[222].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – surface sow from late winter to early summer in a greenhouse in a very free-draining soil, but making sure that the compost does not dry out. The sub-species A. tridentata vaseyana germinates better if given a cool stratification for 30 – 50 days. Other sub-species germinate in 1 – 2 weeks in a warm greenhouse[164]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter, planting them out in late spring or early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Very slow to root[11] Division in spring or autumn. Layering[164].
Requires a sunny position and a well-drained soil that is not too rich[1, 11]. Requires a lime-free soil[60]. There are a number of sub-species growing in different habitats from deep fertile soils to poor shallow ones[164]. Plants are longer lived, more hardy and more aromatic when they are grown in a poor dry soil[245]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[200]. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10¡c[200]. The young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun[K]. The plant is very aromatic, especially after rain[11, 182]. The pollen of this species is one of the main causes of hayfever in N. America[212]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233].
Western N. America – British Columbia to California and Mexico, east to Nebraska.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.