Ceremonial sage.


Date: Thu, 31 Aug 1995 02:35:51 -0400
From: Chuck Coker, Indigenous Languages Project <IndLangPrj.AOL.COM>
Subject: Re: need a latin name for ceremonial sage

> I am having a lot of difficulty identifying the plant that Native Americans use for ceremonial purposes. They call it sage (and yes I know what it looks like) but I can't find any other names for it or it's latin name. It is almost ready to harvest here in Minnesota.

In these parts (Arizona), Artemisia frigida and Artemisia tridentata are commonly used. The A. tridentata is the "sage" plant that most people think of for ceremonial purposes in the Southwest. Many other plants are used in cermonies, too.

One of the problems with identifying Native American anything is that there is no such thing as a generic Native American. The people that were indigenous to Minnesota might or might not be the ones that are there now. Many people and/or groups are mixed, too. In my house here on the Hualapai Rez, and in the houses on either side of mine, there are people made up of Hualapai/ Chinese, White/ Cherokee (me), Hualapai/ Havasupai, and Paiute that I know of. The Cherokee people were originally from the Southeast area of the US, but related to the Iroquois in the Northeast US. The Hualapai, Havasupai, and Paiute people are related to the Aztecs of Mexico. The Navajo and Apache, both of which live nearby, are Athapaskans, the people you'd find in Alaska and Western Canada.

One option you have is to pick a sample of the plant and take it to a nearby university and ask someone in the botany department. Or maybe a local nursery could help. If you are in a remote location, like I am, a local person might be your best bet. Ask an older person--make their day! Old folks know a lot, and they seldom get the chance to talk to other people as often as they'd like to.

From: Conrad Richter <conrad.RICHTERS.COM>

> I am having a lot of difficulty identifying the plant that Native

Probably Artemisia ludoviciana, or perhaps a related Artemisia species.

From: Mickie Erickson <Mickie.DECISIONSYS.COM>

> I am having a lot of difficulty identifying the plant that Native

It's mugwort (aka A. Vulgaras). I just harvested mine.


> I am having a lot of difficulty identifying the plant that Native

I have found sage listed as Salvia Officinalis in a few resources. Hope this helps!

From: Howie Brounstein <howieb.TELEPORT.COM>

> I am having a lot of difficulty identifying the plant that Native

The common name Sage refers to a variety of unrelated plants, many of which were used ceremonially. You've gotten 3 latin names so far, so how do you tell now?

Sage - Salvia sp. is in the Mint Family (Labiatae) with square stems, opposite leaves and two lipped flowers. If you have a Salvia, the leaves will be in pairs on the stem, generally with wide leaves that are entire (no teeth, lobes, serrations, or grooves along the edges of the leaf, just oval shaped). This genus includes garden sage for cooking and white sage (ceremonial) and black sage, purple sage, hummingbird sage, and innumerable others. This plant is probably not growing wild in Minnesota.

Sagebrush (sage) - shrubby Artemisia sp. is in the Sunflower family. They have woody stems and are bushes (shrubs) with often irregularly shaped leaves. These plants have also been used ceremonially. The flowers are small and yellow centered.includes silver sage.

Mugwort (Sagewort) herbaceous Artemisia sp. is related to the Sagebrush, only it is not a woody shrub, it is an herb (botanically speaking, not a tree or shrub). This are the plants used for dreams. The details of the specific species of the Artemisias are complex and confusing.

Hope this helps some, many folks become confused with the common name "Sage".