Big sagebrush is a tall green-grey shrub that grows up to two metres high. It has lots of branches and grey bark. The twigs are very hairy and the leaves have three teeth at the end. It has small yellow flowers on the ends of the twigs, and the entire shrub smells wonderful.
RANGE & HABITAT
Big sagebrush grows from southern B.C., especially in lower elevations, down through the Rocky Mountains in the US. It mostly grows in grasslands and poor soils.
The flowers bloom in late summer, and they ripen into hairy seeds that spread by attaching themselves to passing animals.
Cows and sheep often graze in areas where big sagebrush grows. As the animals eat the grasslands, big sagebrush expands into areas where no grass is left. There is much more big sagebrush growing in southern B.C. than there was before we had cattle and sheep grazing.
TRADITIONAL FIRST NATIONS USES
The leaves and branches were used by Southern Interior First Nations to make a tea for colds, and burned to help air out a house. Some groups wove the bark into mats, bags and clothes.
The leaves and branches are still used to make teas to help colds, and burning the leaves helps keep away insects.
COSEWIC: Not at Risk
Photo: Nancy Turner