Big Sagebrush is a
member of the Sunflower Family. It
can grow to 7 feet
height and appears as a large bush with many side branches that ascend
upwards. The evergreen leaves are one quarter inch to two inches long,
wedge-shaped and have three or five lobes at the tip.
The plant typically grows in dry plains, mesas and rocky
areas at elevations between 5000 - 8000 feet.
Big Sagebrush is the state plant
Big Sagebrush blooms in late summer producing dense
clusters of tiny yellow or cream-colored flowers. One mature plant may
produce up to one million tiny, black seeds. Big Sagebrush is an
important winter browse plant for a number of wildlife species,
including pronghorn, mule deer, domestic livestock, sage grouse and
many small mammals. More than seventy percent of the sage grouse's
diet consists of sagebrush leaves and buds. Both
Navajos and Hopis made medicine from the plant to cure
stomach-ache. The Navajos also used it to cure colds and headaches.