Asteraceae – Artemisia2017-08-16T09:46:36+00:00

   Asteraceae: Sunflower Family – Anthemideae (Mayweed) Tribe: Artemisia

The Sunflower family is a very large family with over 25,000 members.  Botanists subdivide the family into a number of tribes of which 14 are represented in Monterey County, one of these, the Heliantheae or Sunflower tribe, being further broken down into subtribes of which 9 are represented in Monterey  County. The Mayweed tribe comprises a mixture of obviously daisy-like flowers and others, like the Artemisia shown on this page which have rather undistinguished flowers but all have foliage with a distinctly sage-like aroma (although they are unrelated to the true sages which belong to the Lamiaceae (Mint family)).

Coast / California Sagebrush – Artemisia californica

Blooms:

Aug–Nov

Plant Height:

6–25 dm

Flower Size:

Medium cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Coastal scrub, chaparral, open woodland

Notes:

Very common aromatic shrub with dense, feathery leaves, bluish-green early in the year becoming grayish as it dries out later in the year.  Flowers are small, reddish and pendulous.

Mugwort – Artemisia douglasiana

Blooms:

May–Nov

Plant Height:

5–15 dm

Flower Size:

Small cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Many communities

Notes:

More easily recognized by its sharply lobed leaves (with their almost white tomentose undersides) than its small creamy white flowers. Like the Coast Sagebrush (Artemisia californica), the leaves have a distinct sage-like aroma. Mugwort is best known as an antidote to Poison Oak though opinions differ as to its effectiveness, so avoidance is undoubtedly the better option.

Tarragon – Artemisia dracunculus

Blooms:

Aug–Oct

Plant Height:

5–15 dm

Flower Size:

Small clusters

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

Dry, disturbed places

Notes:

Not dissimilar to Mugwort (Artemisia douglasiana) in its general appearance and flowers, but the smaller and narrower leaves are green on both sides and the lobes are much narrower than those of the Mugwort. Although related to the culinary Tarragon, this tends to have little aroma and what there is is often bitter and unpleasant.

Coastal / Beach Sagewort – Artemisia pycnocephala

Blooms:

June–Sept

Plant Height:

3–7 dm

Flower Size:

Large cluster

Origin:

Native

Habitat:

 

Rocky or sandy soils, coastal strand

Notes:

Commonly found near or alongside Coast Sagebrush (Artemisia californica), it is immediately distinguishable by its pale gray foliage.  Often grows in mounds with its leafy stems sometimes curved towards the tip. The flower spike is more congested than that of the Sagebrush and the flowers are more yellow than white.