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The official state flower of Nevada is the sagebrush. Found throughout the state, the sagebrush is well suited to the arid conditions that are common in Nevada. Outside Nevada, the sagebrush can also be found in desert areas of California and parts of the western United States as well as dry areas in southwestern Canada.
On 20 March 1917, state senators signed a resolution that designated the sagebrush as the state flower of Nevada. In 1959, the state senate passed another resolution which resulted in the plant being adopted as the state's official emblem. A 1967 Nevada statute named the sagebrush as the official state flower of Nevada.
The sagebrush is a shrub that typically grows no taller than 6 feet (1.83 m) in dry areas, although it can grow twice as high in wetlands and areas close to rivers and streams. Sagebrush branches are rough in texture and are a silvery green or greyish color. Leaves on the branches are usually grey. The sagebrush flowers towards the end of the summer or during the fall, at which time it produces buds that grow into white or yellow petals. Flowers grow on the tips of branches.
Sagebrush grows freely on mountain ranges as well as in low lying areas. Pronghorn, which are sometimes referred to as North American Antelope, graze on sagebrush, and have a tolerance to the toxins contained within the plant. Sheep can eat sagebrush leaves and flower buds without enduring any severe side effects. Cattle cannot tolerate sagebrush consumption and only eat the plant as a last resort because the plant causes digestive problems for cattle that disrupt the cattle's internal temperature and can result in the cattle freezing during the winter.
This plant produces a strong odor, particularly in wet conditions. Native American inhabitants of Nevada and surrounding states traditionally used sagebrush leaves to make medicine and potions. Among the native American tribes that heavily relied on sagebrush for medicinal purposes were the Navajo and the Hopi. The bark was stripped from sagebrush and used by Native Americans to weave mats. Sagebrush contains anti-oxidants and is still used to create remedies by herbal medicine practitioners.
Despite the prevalence of the state flower of Nevada across the Western United States, many people are allergic to the plant and it can cause liver problems and blood clots. Native Americans took advantage of these properties and used the plant to help treat cuts and open wounds. The plant is toxic to various types of parasites, and when made into a tea can help to eradicate intestinal worms.