Sage brush is the common name of a large family of herbaceous, woody plants native to the steppes in the western part of North America. The plant usually grows to the height of two feet, it is extremely long-lived, some specimens surviving in their harsh habitats for over a century and it is known to play a beneficial role in maintaining the fertility of arid landscapes – here is how:
– The plant might look short, but its tap roots extend to 1-4 meters underneath the surface and they extract moisture from the deeper layers of the soil, thus facilitating growth for other plants and grasses that have shorter roots including good drought tolerant grass in the area;
– In winter, the sage brush captures the snow and maintains the surface layers of the soil sufficiently moist for other plants to survive;
– The sage brush is also known as a nurse plant not only for various species of grass, but also for animals, such as sheep, cattle and wildlife, including birds, elks, deer and rabbits that rely on the plant for sustenance;
– The shade provided by the branches and leaves of the sage brush also serves as shelter for birds and insects, all of them essential for the health of arid or semi-dry landscapes.