FACT SHEET: Mountain Big Sagebrush

Common Name
: Mountain Big Sagebrush
Other Common Names: Vasey Sagebrush
Scientific Name
: Artemisia tridentata vaseyana
Family: Aster Family (Asteraceae)
Distribution: common and widely distributed in the Intermountain West
Habitat: foothill and middle montane habitats
Habit: shrub
Height: 2-3'
Spread: 2-4'
Foliage Color: pale green
Leaves: strap-shaped with three rounded lobes at the tip
Flower Color
: green turning straw-colored
Flower Form: flowers tiny, in a dense, elongate terminal branched inflorescence
Flowering Season: autumn

Cultural Requirements: Prefers full sun and rich to well-drained soils. Fully cold-hardy. Drought hardy (i.e., needs no supplemental water after establishment on the Wasatch Front), intolerant of overwatering.

Readily grown from seed. May be direct-seeded in late fall. Seeds (achenes) are nondormant but require light to germinate. They are difficult to clean free of the chaff, and are commonly planted chaff and all. It is necessary to make sure seeds are present, however. Fast-growing, often flowering the first year when spring-planted as container stock.

Uses and Notes of Interest: Big sagebrush is the signature plant of the Intermountain West, covering more acres than any other shrub. The mountain big sagebrush subspecies is shorter and more compact than the basin and Wyoming subspecies, and its leaves have a pleasant menthol odor that is especially noticeable after rain. It is an evergreen that can add much-needed color to winter landscapes, and it is a good companion to foothill bunchgrasses and wildflowers in an informal meadow setting. It also performs well as a specimen plant, as long as it is in an area where it will not be overwatered. Sagebrush will volunteer freely from seed. To prevent this, just cut the flowering stalks before seed shatter in late fall.