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Prairie Sagebrush (Artemisia frigida)

Life history

Species overview

Prairie Sagebrush (Artemisia frigida), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found in very dry dolomite bluff prairies and sand terraces along the upper Mississippi River; it is adventive elsewhere. Blooming occurs early August through late September; fruiting occurs throughout September. The optimal identification period for this species is early August through late September.

Synonyms: None


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Distinguished from many other members of the genus by having hairy receptacle.
  • Flower characteristics: Inflorescence of numerous small heads; disk flowers pale, borne in a raceme; rays absent; receptacle beneath flower head with numerous long hairs.
  • Fruit characteristics: Achenes with up to a few nerves, narrow at base and truncated at apex.
  • Leaf characteristics: Small and thread-like, less than 1 mm wide and 5 to 12 mm long, arranged in 2 or 3 groups of 3 linear divisions.


  • Blooming phenology: early August through late September
  • Fruiting phenology: throughout September
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is early August through late September


  • Growth form: Forb-erect
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Besseya bullii, Castilleja sessiliflora, Psoralea esculenta, Anemone patens, Liatris cylindracea, Bouteloua hirsuta, B. curtipendula, Artemisia caudata, Aster oblongifolius.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Prairie Sagebrush (Artemisia frigida). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Artemisia frigida in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS2
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in very dry dolomite bluff prairies and sand terraces along the upper Mississippi River; it is adventive elsewhere.
  • Soils: Sandy, calcareous soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Prairie Sagebrush. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Dry Prairie 3
Sand Prairie 3
Pine Barrens 1

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Prairie Sagebrush. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Ecological landscape score
Western Coulee and Ridges 3

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid locating landings, staging areas, or access routes in open sandy areas dominated by native grasses.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Prescribed burns and/or brushing may be beneficial (dependent on local site conditions).
  • Maintain low canopy cover areas for savanna and barrens plant species.


Prairie Sagebrush Photo.

Photo © Emmet Judziewicz.

Prairie Sagebrush Photo.

Photo © William S. Alverson.

Prairie Sagebrush Photo.

Photo © William S. Alverson.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition