Monday, July 14, 2008

Sagebrush - Do Not Eat

Here's what you see dotting the landscape in areas around my town that are still natural. Meet sagebrush. This is not the sage used for seasoning, in fact, don't eat this plant, it can be toxic to the liver. Don't even touch it too much, it has natural oils that cause an allergic reaction in most people....and, it stinks! It, maybe, smells, just slightly, like the sage we use for seasoning. When the plant gets wet, it becomes more "fragrant." Most animals steer clear because it's toxic, except one - pronghorn. They love sagebrush and it's healthy for them. By the way, I did touch this plant because when I was taking its picture, I was curious. The "leaves" - which are more like evergreen needles - are actually soft. I did run home and wash my hands, though. I remember reading that Native Americans used the plant as a medicinal herb in small amounts. Although it's toxic, it's not usually deadly in small amounts, and the toxicity only lasts for a couple of days.


  1. Whats the difference between this and tumbleweeds? Or, are they the same thing, just tumbleweeds are dead?

  2. Hi Jim - tumbleweeds are plants where the stems and leaves die off each fall and roll away. Sagebrush is an evergreen, so the stems and leaves stay around all year. I actually had a friend who would cut a sagebrush plant each winter to use as his "Christmas tree" - a very stinky tree.

  3. I've seen cattle and deer eat sagebrush, and they didn't keel over. Gawd.

    1. Ruminants depend on sage brush for protein in the winter. Just not good for people :)


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