Nothing Stinky About Stinkweed —
Wild Sage in its Many Forms

Wild sage is out in abundance now around Dawson City.  There are two kinds of wild sage, one you may be more familiar with and one less familiar with.  For both, the leaves can be dried and used as a herb.

The more familiar wild sage is artemisia frigida — which is distinctive by its sage green colour.  Its scent is a delicate with that aromatic sweet sage smell.  It is most often found in alpine areas and outcroppings.

The more familiar wild sage, artemisia frigida.

You may be less familiar with artemisia tilesii, commonly referred to as stinkweed. This is a misnomer.  There is nothing stinky about the aromatic smell of sage!  Artemisia tilesii is prolific – especially along road sides, and it looks very much like an inedible weed.  But that is just a ruse.  You can identify it by rubbing the leaf to smell its distinctive sage smell.  As it is quite plentiful, you can cut it at the base of the stalk and hang it to dry.  The dried leaves keep well in a mason jar throughout the year.  Crush the dried leaves or grind them in a coffee grinder before adding as a seasoning.

The less familiar, although bountiful, wild sage, artemisia tilesii.  Best picked at this stage, 12- 18″ high, before it flowers.

In case mosquitos are bothering you while you forage, the leaves of wild sage, along with yarrow, also acts as a mosquito repellent if you rub the leaves on your skin.

And here is a tip from Bev Gray’s The Boreal Herbal, if you have sore feet while you are hiking or foraging, line the soles of  your boots or shoes with artemisia tilesii leaves!

Wild sage, artemisia tilesii, at the flowering stage.

 

 

 

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