Good observation, Bruce. In this part of Montana we have over a dozen species of Artemisia (sagebrush). In the area of this photo, there are probably at least 6. This dry southwestern part of Montana is dominated by sagebrush vegetative communities.
Very nice Eve, special landscape!
Speaking of sage, I seem to recall sage taller than me and almost like a forest of sorts around the Cherry Creek area. Any merit to that memory of mine?
Hi Dann. Cherry Creek? In what Range and at what elevation? I know of at least 3 Cherry Creeks in Southwest Montana, and there's probably more than that.
In Idaho, where I'm originally from (27 years ago), I've seen Basin Big Sage as tall as 13 feet. Both Wyoming and Mountain Big sage can top 8 feet, so yes, I'd say your memory is correct. There is also some very tall sage in the vicinity of Bannack (on Bon Accord road). I've got photos of my 6'5" husband walking under some plants where the lower branches clear his head :).
The one I'm thinking of is the drainage just to the south of Trapper Creek in the Pioneers. Could sage that tall be considered a tree? I'm not sure how tall the ones I remember were as I'm now taller than I was when hunting with my grandpa as a kid. I'd say roughly 10ft max.
Dann, if you were in the flats near the drainage, and quite low elevation it could have still been basin big sage. If you were up higher and the shrub was growing on a steep rocky nountainslope, it was most likely Mountain Mahogany, which can have the same shape. Sage, no matter how tall, is still classed as a shrub. A tree is a plant that has apical dominance, meaning one stem is dominant. Shrubs, under normal circumstances, have multiple stems with no particular one dominant.
It was very low, along the creek if I remember. Your differentiation between trees and bushes brings my father's insistence that the 25ft-tall Buckthorn in our front yard in Butte was indeed a bush. ;)
If it was in the floodplain and the soils were poorly drained, it is a mystery to me what the shrub was. Sagebrush will not tolerate drainage impeded soils even for a short time. Flooding kills it. Case in point, the Big Hole. At one time, the valley was covered with sagebrush, but the flood irrigation there has killed it.
I seem to remember it being in a low-lying area, but I could be wrong. (I think I was 12-13 at the time) which was more than a decade ago.
I'll try to remember to look next time I drive up that way. I usually go into Canyon Creek, rather than Cherry or Trapper, but I've been meaning to check that area out too.
I'm pretty sure the area we were in was about four miles southwest of Melrose. You could see I-15 from the hills north of the creek.
I love your Blacktail pictures. Thanks. That is an area few people in Montana go to.
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Photo taken in Beaverhead County, MT, USA
Misplaced? Suggest new location