Black Sagebrush/Bluebunch Wheatgrass

(5) Black Sagebrush/Bluebunch Wheatgrass Plant Community
(Artemisia nova/Agropyron spicatum)

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PLANT LIST for Black Sagebrush/Bluebunch Wheatgrass Plant Community»

Black sagebrush vegetation community. (photo, S. Durney) Black sagebrush vegetation community. (photo, S. Durney)
Black sagebrush looks like big sage, but has a few defining characteristics that differentiate the two. Big sagebrush grows to be quite a bit larger than black sagebrush but when either bush is young it can be difficult to determine the species on size alone. The key feature of black sagebrush is the presence of green to amber resin dots on the underside of the leaves. Sagebrush species may interbreed to produce intermediate types, making identification difficult. Big sage and black sage both occur on the south side of the Pryor Mountains and are likely to produce some intermediate shrub forms. Black Sagebrush occurs on shallow, stony, calcareous soils of sagebrush steppe often near Utah Juniper in montane valleys while Big sagebrush occurs on adjacent sites with deeper soils.

Just north of the Utah Juniper community is a black sagebrush community at Demijohn Flats off of Crooked Creek Road. This community is primarily a low shrub community with scattered Utah Juniper. The terrain includes the benches and mid- slopes of the area east of Crooked Creek. Thirty-two species were observed in the community. All were native to Montana except for Goat’s Beard (Tragopogon dubious). The plant community is in excellent condition for the most part. There is little sign of overgrazing or off road vehicle impacts but periodic monitoring is important for maintaining the site and mitigating small impacts before they become serious.

The view from the black sagebrush community looking southeast over Demijohn Flats. (photo, S. Durney) The view from the black sagebrush community looking southeast over Demijohn Flats. (photo, S. Durney)
The plants are rather dense for a sagebrush community and leave little available bare ground for invasion. One of the best times to visit this community is at the end of May and beginning of June when the northwest paintbrush is in full bloom. The suite of native plants that occur with sagebrush are beautiful and worth exploring carefully.

This location of the Pryor Mountains has an excellent view of the Bighorn Mountains to the east and Bighorn Lake to the southeast.

Buff Fleabane <i>(Erigeron ochroleucus)</i> (photo, S. Durney) Buff Fleabane (Erigeron ochroleucus) (photo, S. Durney)

Big sagebrush (foreground), black sagebrush (background), northwest paintbrush and stemless hymenoxys. (photo, S. Durney) Big sagebrush (foreground), black sagebrush (background), northwest paintbrush and stemless hymenoxys. (photo, S. Durney)

Return to the main Botanical Guide to Special Places in the Pryors.

Refer the printable Botanical Guide version of the Pryor Mountain Map Set.

This study community (#5) is east of Crooked Creek Road about 5.8 miles north of the junction with Helt Rd., and 0.5 miles south of the USFS/BLM boundary fence. The site is on the edge of Demijohn Flat which extends to the east.

GPS Coordinates: N 45.0829°, W 108.4081°. Elevation: about 5,470 feet.

(Site #5 is about 1.3 miles north of site #4.)

* Non-Natives

Utah Juniper (Juniperus osteosperma)

Black Sagebrush (Artemisia nova)
Big Sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata)
Broom Snakeweed (Gutierrezia sarothrae)
Winterfat (Krascheninnikovia lanata)
Hood’s Phlox (Phlox hoodii)

Low or Lotus Milkvetch (Astragalus lotiflorus)
Pursh’s Milkvetch (Astragalus purshii)
Tufted or Draba Milkvetch (Astragalus spatulatus)
Hooker’s Sandwort (Arenaria hookeri)
Mariposa or Sego Lily (Calochortus nuttallii)
Deasert Indian Paintbrush or Northwest Paintbrush (Castilleja angustifolia)
Bastard Toadflax (Comandra umbellata)
Siskiyou or Low Hawksbeard (Crepis modocensis)
Buff Fleabane (Erigeron ochroleucus)
Oval-leaved or Cushion Buckwheat (Eriogonum ovalifolium)
Bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva)
Prairie Flax or Wild Blue Flax (Linum lewisii)
Carrotleaf or Fennel-Leaved Desert-Parsley (Lomatium foeniculaceum)
Oriental Desert-parsley (Lomatium orientale)
Sagebrush or Oblong-leaf Bluebells (Mertensia oblongifolia)
Plains Prickly-Pear (Opuntia polyacantha)
Desert Groundsel or Dryland Ragwort (Senecio eremophilus)
Stemless Mock Goldenweed (Stenotus acaulis)
Stemless Four-nerve-daisy or Stemless Hymenoxys (Tetraneuris acaulis)
Sword Townsend-daisy (Townsendia spathulata)
Mountain or Meadow Death Camas (Zigadenus venenosus)
* Alyssum sp. (Alyssum sp.)
*Meadow Goat’s Beard (Tragopogon dubius)

Bluebunch Wheatgrass (Agropyron spicatum)
Prairie Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha)
Sandberg’s Bluegrass (Poa secunda)