Pȟežíȟota Tȟáŋka: Mosquito Sage

It’s mosquito season here, and the spring floodwaters have given them the ideal habitat for a really prolific year… Not such great news for us warm-blooded mammals. And appropriately enough, the Čhapȟúŋka Oyáte really went after me while I was harvesting this plant.

Pȟežíȟota Tȟáŋka, or Artemisia tridentata, is locally called sagebrush, in contrast to Pȟežíȟota (ceremonial sage). This one grows in a brushy short perennial bush, unlike ceremonial sage, which annually grows up from a single stem (but has a perennial root system). It grows on the dryer parts of the reservation.

Artemisia tridentata grows all around the Great Basin of North America, but the one we have here is a less fragrant variant. The individual leaves lack the district three “teeth” (tri+dentata) that I’ve seen on A. tridentata plants in British Columbia and Nevada, and doesn’t have as strong of a smell — but botanically, they are the same species.

Locally, another name for this one is mosquito sage. The reason, in case it isn’t obvious, is that you can burn this to keep mosquitoes at bay. It dries fairly quickly on a car dashboard — but the rain chased the mosquitoes away before I got a chance to see if this year’s plant is especially effective against this year’s mosquitoes. I’ll update this blog once I get a chance to use it.

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