Native Americans used Sagebrush for weaving and medicinal purposes.
Sagebrush can be found on the official Nevada state flag as well as on the commemorative Nevada quarter minted in 2006.
It may come as something of a surprise, but Sagebrush, the Nevada state flower, does a lot more than pepper the deserts and rangelands of the Western States with low, woody shrubs.
For one thing, its flowers bring welcome color to the region from late summer into the fall, especially the central basin of Nevada. It’s an important source of winter food for sheep and cattle, because it keeps its leaves all year round. Native tribes used its aromatic leaves as medicine and wove its bark into mats.
Growing in areas where other plants cannot, the Nevada state flower can go as tall as 12 feet high, with its silvery gray to brown bark crowded with gray leaves and flowers in muted yellow. It can even be found within the city limits of Las Vegas , Reno and Carson City, where it will grow to its more common height of 3 to 6 feet tall.
Sagebush is so abundant in some areas of Nevada that it actually slowed down the famous cattle drives of the Old West as herds had to pick their way through the densely growing brush. Also, it’s largely responsible for the adoption of chaps as daily working wear by cowboys to protect their legs as they also picked their way through.
Do not get Sagebrush confused with the common sage you’ll find on your spice shelf. While the Nevada state flower has a strong fragrance, its taste is actually bitter and unpleasant. That’s probably why animals wait to eat it until there are no alternatives.
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Top image courtesy of Sage Ross.