Herb: Sage Brush

Latin name: Artemisia tridentata

Synonyms: Seriphidium tridentatum

Family: Compositae

Medicinal use of Sage Brush:

Sage brush was widely employed by many native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a wide range of disorders. It is little used in modern herbalism, though it certainly merits further investigation. The plant is antirheumatic, antiseptic, digestive, disinfectant, febrifuge, ophthalmic, poultice and sedative. A decoction of the leaves is used in the treatment of digestive disorders and sore throats. An infusion of the fresh or dried leaves is used to treat pneumonia, bad colds with coughing and bronchitis. It is used both internally and externally in the treatment of rheumatism. The crushed plant is used as a liniment on cuts, sores etc whilst a decoction of the leaves is used as an antiseptic wash for cuts, wounds and sores. A poultice of the steeped leaves is applied to sore eyes. The plant is burnt in the house in order to disinfect it.

Description of the plant:


2.5 m
(8 1/4 foot)



Habitat of the herb:

Dry plains and hills on calcareous soils. Found on slightly acid and on alkaline soils.

Edible parts of Sage Brush:

Leaves - cooked. The subspecies A. tridentata vaseyana has a pleasant mint-like aroma whilst some other subspecies are very bitter and pungent. The leaves are used as a condiment and to make a tea. Seed - raw or cooked. Oily. It can be roasted then ground into a powder and mixed with water or eaten raw. The seed is very small and fiddly to use.

Other uses of the herb:

An infusion of the leaves is used as a hair rinse, it treats dandruff and falling hair. An infusion of the plant repels insects, it is also disinfectant and so is used for washing walls, floors etc. A yellow to gold dye is obtained from the leaves, buds and stems combined. The fibrous bark is used for weaving mats, baskets, cloth etc., or as a stuffing material in pillows etc and as an insulation in shoes to keep the feet warm. A fibre obtained from the inner bark is used for making paper. The fibres are about 1.3mm long. The stems are harvested in late summer, the leaves removed and the stems steamed until the fibre can be stripped off. The fibre is then cooked for two hours with lye before being ball milled for 4 hours. The resulting paper is a light tan/gold colour. A bunch of the leafy stems can be tied together and used as a broom. The shredded bark is a fine tinder for starting fires. The stems make good friction sticks for making fires. The seeds are used during celebrations because, when thrown into a fire, they explode like crackers. Wood - hard, dense. It burns rapidly and well, even when green, and has a pleasant aromatic smell.

Propagation of Sage Brush:

Seed - surface sow from late winter to early summer in a greenhouse in a very free-draining soil, but making sure that the compost does not dry out. The sub-species A. tridentata vaseyana germinates better if given a cool stratification for 30 - 50 days. Other sub-species germinate in 1 - 2 weeks in a warm greenhouse. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter, planting them out in late spring or early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. Very slow to root Division in spring or autumn. Layering.

Cultivation of the herb:

Dry plains and hills on calcareous soils. Found on slightly acid and on alkaline soils.

Known hazards of Artemisia tridentata:

Although no reports of toxicity have been seen for this species, skin contact with some members of this genus can cause dermatitis or other allergic reactions in some people.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.