Shrubs, 20-40(-60) cm (branched from bases, rounded), mildly aromatic; not root-sprouting. Stems silvery, canescent (bark gray-brown). Leaves persistent, light gray-green; blades narrowly cuneate, 0.5-3 × 0.2-0.5 cm, entire or 3(-5)-lobed (lobes 1.5-2 mm, less than 1/3 blade lengths, acute), faces silvery canescent. Heads (usually nodding) in arrays 6-25 × 1-4 cm (branches erect, somewhat curved). Involucres globose, 2-3 × 1.5-2.5 mm. Phyllaries (8-15) ovate, canescent or tomentose. Florets: pistillate 0-2 (raylike, laminae to 1 mm); bisexual 1-3; corollas 1-1.5 mm (style branches of ray florets elongate, exsert, epapillate, tips acute; of disc florets, short, truncate, papillate). Cypselae (ellipsoid, 5-ribbed) 0.8-1 mm, glabrous. 2n = 18, 36, 72. Flowering early summer-late fall. Deserts, sandy or alkaline soils, rock outcrops; 1000-2500 m; Ariz., Calif., Colo., Nev., N.Mex., Tex., Utah.
FNA 2006, Heil et al 2013
Common Name: Bigelow sage Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Shrub, Subshrub General: Mildly aromatic shrubs, 20-60 cm tall, rounded, branched from base; bark gray-brown; stems silvery, canescent. Leaves: Alternate, sessile, persistent; blades light gray-green, narrowly cuneate, entire or shallowly 3-5 lobed, 3 cm long by 0.5 cm wide, faces silvery-canescent. Flowers: Flower heads discoid, usually nodding, arranged in racemes 6-25 cm long, which extend above the rounded body of the shrub; involucres (the ring of bracts surrounding the flower heads) globose, 2 mm high, the bracts (phyllaries) 8-15, ovate, canescent or tomentose; florets bisexual discs, 1-3 per head, the corollas 1-1.5 mm; sometimes also 1 or 2 pistillate ray florets in the head, rays 2-lipped, to 1 mm. Fruits: Achenes ellipsoid, 5-ribbed, 1 mm, glabrous. Ecology: Found in deserts, sandy or alkaline soils, rimrock, desert shrub, and pinyon-juniper woodlands, from 4,500-8,000 ft (1372-2438 m); flowers June to October. Distribution: CA and NV east to CO, NM, and TX Notes: With its gray-green 3-lobed leaves, this short shrubby Artemisia can be confused for A. tridentata, though that species grows much larger, usually at least 1 m and can be up to 3 m tall, and tends to grow in quite deep soils. A. bigelovii is more easily confused with A. nova, a species of comparable stature. Primary differences are that A. nova has sparsely hairy, gland-dotted phyllaries and only disc florets, while A. bigelovii has tomentose phyllaries and occasionally has a couple of ray florets in the flowering heads. A. bigelovii is said to be primarily a species of rimrock habitats. Ethnobotany: Unknown, but other species in the genus have uses. Etymology: Artemisia is named for Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt and namesake of Artemisia, queen of Anatolia; bigelovii honors John M. Bigelow (1804-1878), botanist and US Army surgeon. Synonyms: Seriphidium bigelowii, Artemisia petrophila Editor: AHazelton 2015