Artemis was Apollo's twin sister and daughter of Zeus and Leto; she was the equivalent of the Greek Diana, goddess of the moon, the woods, and the wild, who, the legend states, derived so much good from plants of this kind that all such plants are named for her. 

      Intermountain Flora presents another etymology: the genus is named for Artemisia, historical Queen of Caria (in present day Turkey) who was a "noted botanist, medical researcher, and scholar".  She was named for the Greek god.

     See more Artemisia   and more  Artemisia shrubs.

Artemisia bigelovii

Artemisia bigelovii

Artemisia bigelovii

Artemisia bigelovii  (Bigelow's Sagebrush)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Shrublands. Fall.
Above: Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, August 9, 2016.
Left: Behind the Rocks, Utah, April 24, 2006 and
Butler Wash, Utah, August 27, 2007.

This rock and sand loving Artemisia shrub looks at first much like a miniature Artemisia tridentata with lobed leaves, woody stems and base, and elongated clusters of miniature flowers in the fall.  (The dried gray flower stalks persist.)  Artemisia bigelovii flowers do, however, have rays, in contrast to the rayless Artemisia tridentata. Also, A. bigelovii always stays short and compact, growing to about two feet wide and high and although botanical floras give leaf measurements as .3-2.3 cm long for A. bigelovii and .5-5 cm long for A. tridentata, I find that most A. bigelovii are in the very short range of these measurements and most A. tridentata are in the long range of these measurements.

As the photograph at the top of the page shows, Artemisia bigelovii, like its cousins A. tridentata and A. nova, grows in extensive colonies.

Although it is relatively easy to distinguish Artemisia bigelovii from Artemisia tridentata, it can be quite difficult to distinguish it from Artemisia nova. Key distinguishing characteristics noted by some botanists are ignored or disagreed with by other botanists:

Weber indicates that since A. nova fits into a group that contains "true shrubs", it should be in the genus Seriphidium, whereas A. bigelovii is in the group that is "herbaceous, sometimes woody at the base" and, therefore is a true Artemisia. No other floras separate them on this basis.

Allred indicates both species are "shrubs or subshrubs, woody at least below". Both species, he continues, have leaves that are "3-toothed or 3-lobed at the tip". Allred then separates the two species on the basis of the hairiness of their phyllaries: A. nova "Phyllaries sparsely hairy to glabrous; leaves gland-dotted". A. bigelovii "Phyllaries canescent to tomentose" and he adds that A. bigelovii has both ray and disk flowers.

Ackerfield indicates that both species belong to those Artemisia that are "shrubs or subshrubs, always woody at least at the base". A. nova has outer phyllaries that are "closely tomentose, inner... [that are] glabrous and resinous". A. bigelovii's "outer and inner" phyllaries are tomentose.

Welsh indicates that the difference between the two species is clear: A. bigelovii has both ray and disk flowers; A. nova has only disk flowers. Heil and O'Kane agree.

There is general agreement that A. bigelovii tends to grow on rimrock where A. nova is usually not found and that A. bigelovii grows from about 1000 meters to 2,300 meters elevation and A. nova grows from about 1,500 meters to 2,500 meters.

The Flora of North America indicates that A. nova has "leaves dark green to gray green... lobes obtuse or rounded; flower heads mostly erect". A. bigelovii has "leaves silver-green, ... lobes acute; heads mostly nodding", "phyllaries sparsely hairy or glabrous".

Perhaps the FNA's complete description of the two species will assist in separating the two species. I have placed key distinguishing characteristics in red and bold:

Artemisia nova  Shrubs, 10–30(–50) cm (trunks relatively short, widely and loosely branched), pungently aromatic; not root-sprouting. Stems brown, glabrescent (vegetative of approximately equal heights, giving plants a ‘hedged’ appearance; bark dark gray, exfoliating with age). Leaves persistent, usually bright green to dark green, sometimes gray-green; blades cuneate, 3-lobed (lobes to 1/3 blade lengths, 0.5–2 × 0.2–1 cm, rounded), faces sparsely hairy, gland-dotted. Heads in paniculiform arrays 4–10 × 0.5–3 cm (branches ± erect; peduncles slender). Involucres narrowly turbinate, 2–3 × 2 mm. Phyllaries (straw-colored or light green) ovate to elliptic (margins hyaline, shiny-resinous), sparsely hairy or glabrousFlorets 2–6; corollas 2–3 mm, glabrous (style branches scarcely exsert).

Artemisia bigelovii   Shrubs, 20–40(–60) cm (branched from bases, rounded), mildly aromatic; not root-sprouting. Stems silvery, canescent (bark gray-brown). Leaves persistent, light gray-green; blades narrowly cuneate, 0.5–3 × 0.2–0.5 cm, entire or 3(–5)-lobed (lobes 1.5–2 mm, less than 1/3 blade lengths, acute), faces silvery canescentHeads (usually nodding) in arrays 6–25 × 1–4 cm (branches erect, somewhat curved). Involucres globose, 2–3 × 1.5–2.5 mm. Phyllaries (8–15) ovate, canescent or tomentoseFlorets: pistillate 0–2 (raylike, laminae to 1 mm); bisexual 1–3; corollas 1–1.5 mm (style branches of ray florets elongate, exsert, epapillate, tips acute; of disc florets, short, truncate, papillate).

In 1857 Asa Gray named this plant for John Bigelow who collected numerous new species with the Mexican Boundary and Whipple Surveys.  Bigelow collected this species in Texas.  (Click for more biographical information about Bigelow.)

Artemisia bigelovii

Artemisia bigelovii  (Bigelow's Sagebrush)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Shrublands. Fall.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, September 10, 2010.

Minute flowers are borne in clusters on long (6-10 inch) stems.

                                        Artemisia bigelovii

Artemisia bigelovii  (Bigelow's Sagebrush)
Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)

Semi-desert, foothills. Shrublands. Fall.
Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, March 12, 2007.
Butler Wash, Utah, August 27, 2007.

The top picture shows that first leaves are rounded and then gradually become three-lobed.  Velvety hairs thickly cover the leaves, but in the center of the picture you can see the actual bright green of the leaf where I scraped off the hairs.

The bottom picture shows that upper stem leaves of flowering branches can be linear and smooth-edged or have just a hint of notching.

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
Questionable presence

Range map for Artemisia bigelovii