Iowa wildflower Wednesday: Prairie sage

For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been meaning to get down to the Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge to take pictures of the late summer/early autumn wildflowers. Like an idiot, I kept putting off my visit, forgetting that the federal facility would be affected by a government shutdown.

So, instead of new shots of flowers blooming right now in central Iowa, today’s post features pictures I took about six weeks ago in Dallas County. Prairie sage usually blooms in August and September and is easy to spot on the landscape long after its flowers have gone.

This is an open thread: all topics welcome.

Artemisia ludoviciana has many common names, including “White sage, Prairie sage, Silver sage, White sagebrush, Louisiana wormwood, Silver wormwood, Louisiana sagewort, Gray sagewort, Cudweed sagewort, [and] Mugwort wormwood.” A member of the aster family, prairie sage is not related to the culinary herb sage, which is in the mint family.

The Natural Resources Conservation Service’s page on prairie sage is unavailable because of the federal government shutdown, but according to the Iowa Association of Naturalists,

Prairie sage is easily identified by its pale, whitish green color and strong sage odor. The stem and underside of the leaves are covered with a fuzzy mat of grayish hairs. It is found throughout the prairie, wherever there are dry, rocky, or sandy soils, and blooms from August to September.

For some Native American tribes, prairie sage had various medicinal and spiritual uses. Some “New Age” types still recommend burning this plant as a purification ritual.

The flower heads on prairie sage are only about 1/8 inch in diameter, and many florets are on each head. My photography skills weren’t up to the task of capturing these flowers, but you can see the plant well enough.

Prairie sage 1 photo prairiesage1_zps66cd4ad8.jpg

Some yellow or gray-headed coneflowers are around and behind the prairie sage in these shots.

Prairie sage with coneflowers photo prairiesagewithconeflowers_zpsf1f43a0b.jpg

Prairie sage 2 photo prairiesage4_zps141497dc.jpg

Tags: Wildflowers

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