This inhabitant of dry hillsides and eroded slopes of the grasslands is a gnarled shrub, 30–150 cm tall. Johnston reports that its silver-grey hairy leaves, 1–3 cm long, were chewed to relieve thirst and that “a decoction of leaves was taken as a tonic and was said to be effective as a hair restorer.” (56)
Growth habit and range: Sagebrush is a common shrub with gnarled stems which grows to 30–150 cm in height. It occurs on dry sites throughout the prairies.
Description: The young bark is covered with silvery hairs, and the older bark is grey-brown and shredding in texture. The fragrant, grey-green leaves are alternate on the stems, are 1–3 cm in length and are linear to lanceolate in shape, with a smooth margin. Each leaf is covered with fine silvery hairs on the top and under surfaces. These hairs help to decrease moisture loss.
The small flowers are borne in a panicle in July and August, and are yellow in colour. Only tubular florets are present, and these are surrounded by greyish, hairy bracts. The fruit is a smooth, brown achene with yellow spots, measuring 1–2 mm in length.
Johnston, Alex. 1987. Plants and the Blackfoot. Occasional Paper No. 15., Lethbridge Historical Society, AB.