Monday, March 23, 2015

Sagebrushes that Almost make California

California is far from deprived of sagebrush vegetation, but is deprived of some sagebrushes (Artemisia Subg. Tridentatae).  Several species approach the eastern California region, and should be sought out, either in Modoc County or in the mountains and eastern Mohave desert.  (Schultz 2012) displays a small (thus low resolution) ecological array depicting sagebrush habitat selection pattern (which I reproduce here).  California has species that fill her entire array (green stars); these ‘missing’ species are the red stars (this also discounts a report of A. tripartita from CA)

Artemisia filifolia
“Sand sage” is distributed over much of Arizona, New Mexico, nw Texas, north in the western Great Plains to South Dakota.  Artemisia filifolia is absent from far southern Nevada (Schultz 2009).  It has been collected often within Washington County in far sw Utah, and in adjacent parts of Arizona.  One record from Mohave County, Hualpai Mountains, : R. Darrow s.n., June 1 1942 (ARIZ52484) if correct would be the most proximal to CA, within ca. 50 miles.    Artemisia filifolia was not reported for the Hualpai Mountain flora (Butterwick et al. 1991), nor was the specimen cited by or mapped by (Schultz 2009).  Absent from the Whipple Mountains (DeGrout 2007)

Artemisia papposa
Centered in the Snake River plains of Idaho, occurrences are known from ncNV in Elko County.  There are very few records generally, and there are no PNW Consortium collections from far se Oregon, where Packard 76-165 (UTC154100) was gathered.  Described in the Pocket Sagebrush Guide (Schultz 2012) as occurring in ‘pockets’ of soil in barren (their term, equal to recent?) lava fields, at 1400-2100 meters elevation (the elevation given both in Intermountain Flora and in FNA Vol. 19).  BONAP records an Elko County, Nevada record.  The center of distribution is in the Owyhee Desert bioregion of Intermountain Flora.  The geographic range west of the mapped occurrences in SEINet are poorly collected.   Mansfield (2000) did not report it in the vicinity of the Steens Mountains, Harney County, Oregon.  If A. papposa were disjunct to the Modoc Plateau (ca. 200 km westward) it would be expected only in far northeast Modoc County.  Artemisia papposa is a low subshrub rarely >2 dm tall, and was not treated in Artemisia Subg. Tridentatae by (Schultz 2009); in FNA Vol. 19 she placed it in Sect. Artemisia and remarked it show alliance to Sphaeromeria.

Artemisia pygmaea
Schulz (2009) maps a record in the vicinity of Clark County, Nevada but does not cite the specimen.  No record is reported from the Spring Mountains (Niles & Leary 2007).  In far northern Arizona, where it is a rare plant, there are records on the Grand Canyon north rim, and a redacted record for Mohave County.  The elevation range given is 1500-2000 meters (Schultz 2009) or 1500-1800 meters in FNA Vol. 19.  Reported from ‘barren outcrops’, ‘fine textured clay soils’ or ‘cemented ash’ (Schulz 2012) or gypsum and shale (Schultz 2009). This compact, low, aromatic sage, would not be unexpected, but would be rare if it were to occur in Inyo or northeastern San Bernardino County, California.

Artemisia rigida
In Steens Mountains ‘rare on rocky slopes below 1600 meters Mansfield (2000).  One occurrence in Harney County T. M. Barkley et al. s.n. in 1956 Squaw Butte Experiment Station, on Juniper Ridge north of the Headquarters” is ca. 115 km from Modoc County.  BONAP does not record A. rigida from Klamath County, but does have a record for Douglas County in a cismontane setting (which is suspect...).  Capable of sprouting after fire (Schultz 2009).  Occurs on loams or montmorillonic clays (which characteristically swell in volume when wet), and at 1500-1800 meters (Schultz 2009). 

Literature Cited
BONAP. 2015.  Biota of North America (
Butterwick, M, BD Parfitt, D. Hillyard. 1991.  J. Arizona-Nevada Acad. Sci. 24:31-49.
DeGrout, SJ.  2007.  Aliso 24:63-96.
Mansfield, DH 2000.  Flora of Steens Mountain.
Niles, WE and PJ Leary. 2007. Mentzelia Vol. 8
Schulz, LM.  2009. Systematic Botany Monographs Vol. 89
Schulz, LM. 2006.  Artemisia, in Vol. 19, Flora North America.

Schulz, LM.  2012. Pocket Guide to Sagebrush (

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