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Artemisia borealis

Artemisia borealis

Artemisia borealis

Artemisia borealis

Artemisia borealis (Sagewort) Synonyms: Artemisia campestris, Artemisia pacificus, Oligosporus groenlandicus, Oligosporus pacificus. (Northern Sagewort)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Alpine, subalpine. Tundra, scree. Summer.
Colorado Trail, Stony Pass, July 22, 2012.

This is a plant I rarely encounter in the Four Corners area and it is difficult to know just how common the plant is because there is considerable disagreement about its name, range, and characteristics. After reviewing a half dozen botanical texts, I thought it best to call this plant Artemisia borealis, the name that the Flora of North America gives it. Other sources give it various names or split it into several species.

Intermountain Flora calls this, "a complex species, with three or more subspecies and an indefinite number of varieties".

I think one key indication about the uncertain classification of this plant is shown in the range map below. Notice the highly separated ("disjunct") populations. That could indicate a truly puzzling disjunct distribution or it could indicate that the species is being misidentified. Someone needs to look at the type specimen and then compare it to all the specimens collected across the West.

The plants pictured occur on tundra at 12,700 feet in many scattered tight clusters of multiple stems and numerous flowers. Flower heads are densely hairy with minute flowers in a tight spike.

See Artemisia ludoviciana for the derivation of the genus name.  "Borealis" is Latin for "of the north".

Artemisia borealis Artemisia borealis

Artemisia borealis (Sagewort) Synonyms: Artemisia campestris, Artemisia pacificus, Oligosporus groenlandicus, Oligosporus pacificus. (Northern Sagewort)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Alpine, subalpine. Tundra, scree. Summer.
Colorado Trail, Stony Pass, July 22, 2012.

Range map © John Kartesz,
Floristic Synthesis of North America

State Color Key

Species present in state and native
Species present in state and exotic
Species not present in state

County Color Key

Species present and not rare
Species present and rare
Species extirpated (historic)
Species extinct
Species noxious
Species exotic and present
Native species, but adventive in state
Eradicated
Questionable presence

Artemisia borealis

Range map for Artemisia borealis