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Picrothamnus desertorum

Picrothamnus desertorum

Picrothamnus desertorum.  Synonym: Artemisia spinescens.  (Spiny Sagebrush)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)
 

Semi-desert. Openings, hills. Spring.
McElmo Canyon, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument,
March 24, 2009 and April 16, 2012.

Picrothamnus desertorum
Picrothamnus desertorum.  Synonym: Artemisia spinescens.  (Spiny Sagebrush)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Semi-desert. Openings, hills. Spring.
McElmo Canyon, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, March 27, 2005.

Spiny Sagebrush is aromatic, rounded, and densely hairy.  Portions of branches often die but remain on the shrub, giving the plant spiny projections.  Leaves drop in mid-summer heat.

Intermountain Flora classifies this plant as an Artemisia but notes that it "is so distinct from all other species [in that genus]".  It is, for instance, the only Artemisia to bloom in the spring. John Kartesz, ultimate authority for all names on this web site, classifies the plant as Picrothamnus desertorum.

Greek gives us both "picro", "bitter or pungent" and "thamnos", "shrub".

This plant was first collected by Thomas Nuttall near the headwaters of the North Platte River, and Nuttall named the plant Picrothamnus desertorum in 1841. D.C. Eaton renamed it Artemisia spinescens in 1871.

Picrothamnus desertorum

Picrothamnus desertorum

Picrothamnus desertorum.  Synonym: Artemisia spinescens.  (Spiny Sagebrush)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Semi-desert. Openings, hills. Spring.
McElmo Canyon, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, March 27, 2005.

Leaves are very finely palmately divided, tightly packed, small, and linear.  Flowers are minute and also tightly packed.

Getting close to plants and seeing them on their level almost invariably shows intricate forms and lovely symmetry.

Picrothamnus desertorum

Picrothamnus desertorum.  Synonym: Artemisia spinescens.  (Spiny Sagebrush)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Semi-desert. Openings, hills. Spring.
McElmo Canyon, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, May 21, 2011.

Tightly packed clusters of dull brown seed heads follow the numerous bright yellow flowers. The white, needle-like projections are the spiny stems.

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 Picrothamnus desertorum