Nevada State Flower - Sagebrush

Only the strong survive in the Mojave desert.

Only the strong survive in the Mojave desert.

Anyone who has ever tried to garden in Nevada is familiar with caliche -- mineral deposits, or sedimentary rock, that form on the surface of the soil. Busting through caliche to landscape is the bane of many a Nevadan, but this is the type of soil that Nevada’s state flower, the sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), finds ideal. This shrub thrives under conditions -- poor soil, desert sun and extreme heat – that defeat most other plants.

Facts

Considered an invasive weed in some regions, sagebrush is a tall shrub, native to the western United States. It grows from 2 to 15 feet in height, depending on the availability of water. Sagebrush bears fragrant silver foliage, and its yellow flowers are formed on stalks, blooming in fall. Sagebrush is the quintessential drought-tolerant plant, able to thrive in regions that receive fewer than 8 inches of rain a year.

History

Sagebrush was adopted as the state floral emblem in 1917, but it wasn’t until 1959 that the Nevada legislature made the adoption more official with an act of statutory law. Finally, in 1967, 50 years after the plant was initially proposed as the state flower, the legislature included its adoption in the Nevada Revised Statutes, and the sagebrush’s place as the state's official flower was cemented.

Cultivation

Sagebrush is a slow-growing shrub, which is good news for gardeners with a small, hot spot in the garden that requires a bit of color. Overall, sagebrush may be one of the easiest plants you will ever grow, as long as the soil is well drained. The ideal soil for sagebrush is one that is gravelly and contains few nutrients. Plant the sagebrush in the sunniest, hottest part of the landscape. Water it until its established, and then never water it again. The only maintenance required is trimming off the dead flower stems after the blooming period.

Uses

Sagebrush provides important forage for wildlife, such as the sage grouse, that relies almost completely on the plant for sustenance. Other animals that graze on the shrub include mule deer and antelope. Sagebrush shrubs in nature also provide shelter for the sage grouse, birds and jackrabbits Nevada is home to five Native American Indian tribes: the Northern and Southern Paiute, Walapai, Washoe and Western Shoshone. These tribes made extensive use of the sagebrush. The leaves were burned and the smoke inhaled to relieve headaches. The foliage was also used to concoct medicine for colds and a number of other ailments. The shrub’s bark was used in weaving and was burned when no other fuel source was available

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