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Artemisia dracunculus

Artemisia dracunculus. Synonym: Oligosporus dracunculus subspecies glauca. (Wild Tarragon)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Foothills, montane. Rocky outcrops and meadows, roadsides. Summer.
Horse Creek Trail, August  31, 2005.

Wild Tarragon is easy to spot from many feet down the trail because of its unusual overall appearance as a bushy clump of strong, green, vertical stems with contrasting, lighter colored, tiny spheres dotting the upper third of the plant. It is a common plant of open meadows and roadsides in the Four Corners area.

Plant aroma can vary from none to a very pleasant and even strong Tarragon scent. Intermountain Flora indicates, "Aromatic and inodorous forms [of Wild Tarragon] are widely scattered in both North America and Eurasia, as are glabrous and shortly hairy forms. The leaves are used for flavoring, especially in some parts of Europe." 

The plant was first collected in Siberia and was named Artemisia dracunculus by Linnaeus who also named the genus in 1753. It was renamed Artemisia glauca in 1831. The genus name "Oligosporus" (from the Greek for "few spores"  --  perhaps because the disk flowers are infertile) was given by Cassini in 1847. In 1981 it was given the name that Weber accepts: Oligosporus dracunculus subspecies glauca.  Kartesz accepts Artemisia dracunculus. 

From Latin we get "Drac" for "dragon" and "unculus" for "little".

Artemisia dracunculus
Artemisia dracunculus. Synonym: Oligosporus dracunculus subspecies glauca. (Wild Tarragon)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Foothills, montane. Rocky outcrops and meadows, roadsides. Summer.
Horse Creek Trail, August  31, 2005.

The tiny spherical dots are the flower heads and seed heads. (See close-up photographs below.) The rose/purple flowers behind the ruler belong to Erigeron speciosus.

Artemisia dracunculus
Artemisia dracunculus. Synonym: Oligosporus dracunculus subspecies glauca. (Wild Tarragon)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Foothills, montane. Rocky outcrops and meadows, roadsides. Summer.
Horse Creek Trail, June 27, 2006.

Leaves are long, narrow, and alternate. Flower buds emerge in tight clusters from the junction of the leaves with the main stem. 

Artemisia dracunculus

Artemisia dracunculus

Artemisia dracunculus. Synonym: Oligosporus dracunculus subspecies glauca. (Wild Tarragon)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Foothills, montane. Rocky outcrops and meadows, roadsides. Summer.
Wildcat Trail, August 28, 2007 and Horse Creek Trail, August  31, 2005.

Yellow flowers are minute in tight clusters and fade to dark browns as the seeds mature.

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

Range map for Artemisia dracunculus