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Desert Diary


A theme apparent in many of our Desert Diary presentations has centered on the problems brought about by common names of animals and plants. When people stuck pretty close to home, it wasn't a big deal, since everyone understood what was meant. But as people began to move around, they soon encountered the same name applied to different organisms and different names given to the same plant or animal.

In the northern Chihuahuan Desert, the common name "sage" is a good example of same name, different plants. The spice that goes by the name of sage comes from plants of the genus Salvia, a member of the mint family, and a number of species of Salvia occur in our region. But we also have the rain sages, Leucophyllum, a member of the figwort family, gracing our landscapes with purple majesty after our summer rains. The Sand Sagebrush represents the sunflower family, nowise closely related to the others. With all of the confusion brought up by these duplications, undoubtedly we're all in dire need of some sage advice.
pen and ink


Contributor: Arthur H. Harris, Laboratory for Environmental Biology, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Sand Sagebrush (<i>Artemisia filifolia</i>)

Sand Sagebrush (Artemisia filifolia) along I-10, Trans-Pecos Texas. Photograph by A.H. Harris.



Web Resources

Texas A&M. Take a look at the sages here.

The Seed Site--a good look at common names in plants.