Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sage Season

One of the most easily recognized plants in Colorado is Sagebrush.  The one we always think of is called Big Sagebrush (Artemesia tridentata).  It has a gray or bluish green cast to it's leaves and a strong odor.  When you burn it, it smells like incense.  It covers miles of open prairie and mountain hillsides in the state, but it doesn't live on Green Mountain.  There may be a few hiding out somewhere, but I haven't found them yet.  

We do have several varieties of sage that keep some color in the hills as all the grass turns to brown.  They're some of the first plants to "green" up in the Spring (some aren't very green) and they keep their color until late Fall. 

They're all flowering now, but it's hard to tell because the flowers are so inconspicuous.  They are about ⅛" across and usually are yellow or white--nothing showy!  
Prairie Sage

Fringed Sage 
 The first two are a grayish green, and look pretty similar until you get close.  Prairie Sage (Artemesia ludoviciana) will grow to over 2' tall.  It has long thin leaves that are a bit hairy if you rub them.  It's cousin is Fringed Sage (Artemesia frigida).  Although the color is about the same, if you check out the leaves, they are very finely divided and look much different than the wider, flat leaves of the Prairie Sage.
False Tarragon
The third sage has a bright green color and can grow up to 4' tall.  Along with many other late Summer bloomers, it doesn't look like much.  The small blossoms are covering g the plants this weekend, and after they bloom they get a really unusual seed pod.  Because they are so inconspicuous, the seeds make it easy to tell False Tarragon.  Of course because it's called FALSE Tarragon, you've probably already figured out that it doesn't have any scent, so you can't replenish your herb jar!
False Tarragon Seed pod

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