Selected Plants of Navajo Rangelands

Take care of our Navajo Rangelands

Sagebrush, big

Typical bushy habit of sagebrush

Big sagebrush and its subspecies are tall, rounded, native shrubs with short, branched, woody trunks. They are normally about four feet high, but vary from two feet in arid conditions to as high as 15 feet on favorable sites. Big sagebrush is perhaps the most important shrub on western rangelands. Evergreen leaves and abundant seed production provide an excellent winter food source to numerous species of large mammals including mule deer, black-tailed deer, white-tailed deer, elk, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep and jackrabbits.

Big sagebrush can be distinguished by its aromatic leaves and stems. The scientific name, Artemisia tridentata, provides another useful clue: the three-toothed leaf tips. The leaves are grayish and slightly hairy or fuzzy. The trunks may form interesting and twisty shapes.

Sagebrush prefers dry soils, and will not grow at stream edges. It is used for tea, rope, medicine, and fuel.

Tender foliage tips showing new growth
Characteristic twisty trunks of several sagebrush plants
Example scrubland habitat with several sagebrushes in situ
Foliage at tips of twigs

Copyright 2018 New Mexico State University. Individual photographers retain all rights to their images. Partially funded by the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (; 435.797.2257), project EW15-023. Programs and projects supported by Western SARE are equally open to all people. NMSU is an equal opportunity/affirmative action educator and employer.