Artemisia dracunculus - L.
Dragon Wormwood
Other English Common Names: Wild Tarragon
Other Common Names: tarragon
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Artemisia dracunculus L. (TSN 35462)
French Common Names: estragon
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.154282
Element Code: PDAST0S0H0
Informal Taxonomy: Plants, Vascular - Flowering Plants - Aster Family
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Plantae Anthophyta Dicotyledoneae Asterales Asteraceae Artemisia
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.
Concept Reference Code: B94KAR01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Artemisia dracunculus
Taxonomic Comments: Two subspecies of A. dracunculus (glauca and dracunculus) were recognized by Kartesz (1994), but Kartesz (1999) considers them to be synonyms. A. dracunculus "apparently intergrades to a limited extent with Artemisia campestris subsp. caudata, especially in the southern Great Plains." (Great Plains Flora Association 1986)
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 16May2016
Global Status Last Changed: 30Sep1987
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: This species is quite widely distributed and very common, at least in portions of its range. It is described as weedy (Weber and Wittmann 1996a, Weber and Wittmann 1996b) and appears to have been introduced in parts of its range. The current level of harvest of this species for spices and for medicinal purposes does not seem to be compromising any populations.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5 (18Feb2012)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
United States Alaska (S1S2), Arizona (SNR), California (SNR), Colorado (SNR), Connecticut (SNR), Idaho (SNR), Illinois (S1), Iowa (S3), Kansas (S2), Massachusetts (SNR), Minnesota (SNR), Missouri (SH), Montana (S4), Nebraska (SNR), Nevada (SNR), New Jersey (SNR), New Mexico (SNR), New York (SNA), North Dakota (SNR), Oklahoma (SNR), Oregon (SNR), South Dakota (SNR), Texas (SNR), Utah (SNR), Washington (SNR), Wisconsin (S2), Wyoming (S5)
Canada Alberta (S4), British Columbia (S5), Manitoba (S4), Ontario (S1), Saskatchewan (S5?), Yukon Territory (S2)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent Comments: A. dracunculus occurs in eastern Europe and Asia, and throughout much of western North America, south from Alaska to northern Mexico, and westwards from Ontario, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Texas (USDA-NRCS 1999, Great Plains Flora Association 1986, Hulten 1968, Kartesz 1999). A. dracunculus also in occurs in New York and a few adjoining states (USDA-NRCS 1999), though these may represent more recent human introductions, as they are not listed in earlier journals (Gleason and Cronquist 1963). The Alaskan and many European populations may also result from human introductions (Hulten 1968). The taxon present in Manitoba is Artemisia dracunculus ssp. glauca, where it is at its northeastern limit and occurs in the southern third of the province, west of the Red River valley (Manitoba Conservation Data Centre).

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: Tens of thousands of populations are extant rangewide, with large areas of Nevada, Wyoming, British Columbia, Nebraska, and Arizona reportedly occupied by this species. Wyoming: >100; British Columbia: common; Manitoba: 21-100; Ontario: one, presumed at the eastern edge of its native range, though possibly adventive because it is near a railroad track; Nevada: very widespread, both geographically and in elevation; Kansas: 50-75, overlooked and underrepresented in herbaria; Illinois: two; Nebraska: common; California: common; Colorado: "frequent and often weedy" (Weber and Wittmann 1996a, Weber and Wittmann 1996b).; Missouri: 5 historical occurrences ssp. glauca; Arizona: occurs through much of the state (Kearney and Peebles 1951); Idaho: extremely common, in some places with weedy tendencies; New York: considered a rare introduction (Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centres).

Population Size Comments: An occurrence in Illinois contains "200 to 300 plants growing in several patches totaling 100 square feet." (Illinois Natural Heritage Database Program) However, in much of its range where it is particularly widespread, occurrences of this plant are too large and populous to reasonably enumerate.

Overall Threat Impact Comments: There are no reports from botanists that there is evidence of plant collecting or any obvious impacts on the species due to this practice. However, given the ubiquity of this species, and the multitude of uses that this plant serves, it is certainly being collected to at least a small extent. Robyn Klein (pers. comm.) states that this and other species of Artemisia are collected for medicinal uses and to make smudge bundles, but that it is unlikely that it is in danger of overharvesting.

In Manitoba, Native Americans may collect this species as they do other Artemisia spp. for cultural/medicinal use. Collection of Artemisia species has been observed in and around reserves (Manitoba Conservation Data Centre).

It is listed as "an herb that can be commonly gathered" (Frontier Co-op 2000). It is collected by hand, which is laborious. Other species, such as A. tridentata and A. ludoviciana, are more commonly collected than this species (Robyn Klein pers. comm.).

An individual from the U.S. herbal medicinal industry states that this plant receives minor usage outside its use as a spice (French tarragon), for which it is cultivated and imported (McGuffin pers. comm.).

In North America, towards the eastern edges of its range, many of the habitats which may have supported this species have been destroyed over the last 200 years for agriculture, urban or suburban development, and materials mining. Also along this eastern zone, it is possible that habitat degradation is a significant threat to remaining populations; natural communities in this region are often greatly dissected by agriculture and development, and subsequent alterations in landscape processes are altering many habitats. In contrast, threats to the habitat of this species towards the interior of its range (the Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, Great Basin, etc.) may be merely sporadic at this time. In Manitoba, threats are grazing, mowing, and tillage (Manitoba Conservation Data Centre). Current rates of wild harvest of this species do not appear to be having a noticeable impact, but renewed interest in this species as a medicinal herb is likely to result in increased wild harvest in the future (Edward Fletcher pers. comm.).

Short-term Trend: Increase of >10%
Short-term Trend Comments: Many sources suggest that this species is introduced in parts of its range (Hulten 1968, USDA-NRCS 1999, Gleason and Cronquist 1963, Swink and Wilhelm 1994), and this indicates that the extent of A. dracunculus's distribution may be increasing naturally as well as through human actions. Furthermore, the possibility that A. dracunculus is weedy (Weber and Wittmann 1996a, Weber and Wittmann 1996b) raises the possibility that it may even be favored by the conditions now present and developing across much of the landscape.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: A. dracunculus occurs in eastern Europe and Asia, and throughout much of western North America, south from Alaska to northern Mexico, and westwards from Ontario, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Texas (USDA-NRCS 1999, Great Plains Flora Association 1986, Hulten 1968, Kartesz 1999). A. dracunculus also in occurs in New York and a few adjoining states (USDA-NRCS 1999), though these may represent more recent human introductions, as they are not listed in earlier journals (Gleason and Cronquist 1963). The Alaskan and many European populations may also result from human introductions (Hulten 1968). The taxon present in Manitoba is Artemisia dracunculus ssp. glauca, where it is at its northeastern limit and occurs in the southern third of the province, west of the Red River valley (Manitoba Conservation Data Centre).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces
Color legend for Distribution Map

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, IA, ID, IL, KS, MA, MN, MO, MT, ND, NE, NJ, NM, NV, NYexotic, OK, OR, SD, TX, UT, WA, WI, WY
Canada AB, BC, MB, ON, SK, YT

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AK Matanuska-Susitna (02170), Valdez-Cordova (CA) (02261)
IL Winnebago (17201)
MO Buchanan (29021)*, Clay (29047)*, Holt (29087)*, Jackson (29095)*
WI Barron (55005), Burnett (55013)*, Crawford (55023)*, Grant (55043)*, La Crosse (55063)*, Manitowoc (55071)*, Monroe (55081), Pepin (55091)*, Pierce (55093), Polk (55095)*, Rock (55105)*, Sheboygan (55117)*, Trempealeau (55121)*, Washburn (55129)*
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
04 Manitowoc-Sheboygan (04030101)+*
07 Upper St. Croix (07030001)+*, Lower St. Croix (07030005)+*, Rush-Vermillion (07040001)+, Buffalo-Whitewater (07040003)+*, Trempealeau (07040005)+*, La Crosse-Pine (07040006)+, Black (07040007)+*, Lower Chippewa (07050005)+*, Red Cedar (07050007)+, Coon-Yellow (07060001)+*, Grant-Little Maquoketa (07060003)+*, Crawfish (07090002)+*, Pecatonica (07090003)+, Kishwaukee (07090006)+*
10 Tarkio-Wolf (10240005)+*, Independence-Sugar (10240011)+*, Platte (10240012)+*, One Hundred and Two (10240013)+*, Lower Missouri-Crooked (10300101)+*
19 Matansuka (19020402)+, Nebesna-Chisana Rivers (19040501)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: Artemisia dracunculus is an herb of dry plains which grows to about 1m tall. The flowers are grayish-green and inconspicuous. The leaves are straight and narrow, or sometimes divided into a few narrow segments. This species often has a strong aroma when crushed (Great Plains Flora Association 1986, Hulten 1968).
Habitat Comments: A. dracunculus occurs to elevations of 3700m in dry open habitats, including prairies, rocky slopes, and roadsides (Cronquist et al. 1972, Hulten 1968). Habitat descriptions for this species frequently appear to be vague; the reason for this may be its frequent occurrence in a high number of community types. In Utah, ten community types are described for this species, including rabbitbrush shrublands, pinyon-juniper woodlands, and spruce-fir forests (Welsh et al. 1993). It is considered to be somewhat weedy in Colorado (Weber and Wittmann 1996a). It is described in Arizona from open coniferous forests and chaparral, from 3500-9000 feet (Kearney and Peebles 1951, Arizona Heritage Data Management System).
Economic Attributes
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Economically Important Genus: Y
Commercial Importance: Minor cash crop
Economic Uses: FOOD, MEDICINE/DRUG, LANDSCAPING, OTHER USES/PRODUCTS
Production Method: Wild-harvested
Economic Comments: Robyn Klein (pers. comm.) states that this and other species of Artemisia are collected for medicinal uses and to make smudge bundles, but that it is unlikely that it is in danger of overharvesting. The medicinal applications of this plant are numerous and are similar to many other species of Artemisia. It is reportedly an antibacterial used to treat staph and strep infections, an anti malarial, and an immune booster. Its properties are reportedly bitter, acrid, and warm, with activity principally on the spleen, liver, and kidneys (Frontier Co-op 2000). However, the previous reference also lists Artemisia species as "cold substances" that "reduce inflammation in the body and tend to sedating in nature." Its action is classified here as "descending," which "facilitates downward circulation." As such the genus Artemisia is listed as an anti-tussive, diuretic, emmenagogue, laxative, purifier, and sedative. It is also reported to be effective against internal parasites (Frontier Co-op 2000).

Prices for this species were found as follows:

Squaw Valley, California, nursery, internet: $3.25/potted plant

Management Summary Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: This species is found mostly in semi-arid habitats, which become increasingly scarce eastward and northward from the western U.S. Thus, the more eastern and northern populations are probably separated by lack of suitable habitat. Within the western U.S., A. dracunculus has a wider range of habitats, and it may be that these populations are typically separated by land use practices or seral community stage.


Date: 21Jan2000
Author: Spackman, S.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 21Jan2000
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Susan Spackman, David Anderson, and Steve Thomas (1/00); rev. Eric Nielsen (1/00)

Botanical data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs), The North Carolina Botanical Garden, and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Cronquist, A., A. H. Holmgren, N. H. Holmgren, J. L. Reveal, and P. K. Holmgren. 1994. Intermountain flora: Vasculr plants of the Intermountain West, U.S.A., Volume 5. The New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY.

  • Gleason, H.A., and A. Cronquist. 1963. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. D. Van Nostrand Company, New York, NY. 810 pp.

  • Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. University of Kansas Press, Lawrence. 1392 pp.

  • Hulten, E. 1968. Flora of Alaska and neighboring territories. Stanford Univ. Press, Palo Alto, CA. 1008 pp.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1994. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. 2nd edition. 2 vols. Timber Press, Portland, OR.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1996. Species distribution data at state and province level for vascular plant taxa of the United States, Canada, and Greenland (accepted records), from unpublished data files at the North Carolina Botanical Garden, December, 1996.

  • Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist and atlas with biological attributes for the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. First edition. In: Kartesz, J.T., and C.A. Meacham. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden, Chapel Hill, N.C.

  • Kearney, T.H., R.H. Peebles, and collaborators. 1951. Arizona flora. 2nd edition with Supplement (1960) by J.T. Howell, E. McClintock, and collaborators. Univ. California Press, Berkeley. 1085 pp.

  • Oldham MJ. 1999a. 1998 botanical highlights. Ontario Natural Heritage Information Centre Newsletter. 5(1): 9-11. (http://nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca/MNR/nhic/documents/newsletter.cfm).

  • Swink, F., and G. Wilhelm. 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region. Morton Arboretum. Lisle, Illinois.

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service. 1999. November 3-last update. The PLANTS database. Online. Available: http://plants.usda.gov/plants. Accessed 2000-Jan.

  • Weber, W.A., and R.C. Wittmann. 1996a. Colorado flora: Eastern slope. Revised edition. Univ. Press of Colorado, Niwot, Colorado. 524 pp.

  • Weber, W.A., and R.C. Wittmann. 1996b. Colorado flora: Western slope. Univ. Press of Colorado, Niwot, Colorado. 496 pp.

  • Welsh, S.L., N.D. Atwood, S. Goodrich, and L.C. Higgins (eds.) 1993. A Utah flora. 2nd edition. Brigham Young Univ., Provo, Utah. 986 pp.

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