The charming groundcover above, “Dwarf Wormwood”, is a part of the large genus Artemisa. With hundreds of species worldwide, Artemisias are called, variably, Wormwood, Mugwort or Sagebrush.
In Europe, the genus was named after a famous Greek queen and healer, Artemisia of Halicarnassus, as well as the Greek goddess Artemis. Artemisia was used traditionally in the medicines of Europe and Asia and has recently been tested for use in the fight against Covid. Artemisias have also played a role in flavoring food (Tarragon) and drink (Absinthe).
Upon colonizing the American West, Europeans were reminded of another Old World medicinal herb, Sage (Salvia), and gave the widespread local Artemisa its confusing name ‘Sagebrush’. They viewed the Sagebrush ‘ocean’  as endless and saw little utility in it.
We are are coming late to the appreciation of Sagebrush as the anchor of our high desert landscape and the key species for the preservation of much desert life, including the endangered Sage Grouse.


May 10, 2021