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Artemisia vulgaris (L)       Mugwort


Artemisia : _______ , from Artemis. Greek for Diana. Name used by Dioscorides.

vulgaris : common.

Mugwort : From moughte (moth/maggot) & Migwort : Mucg : (midge) & wort : plant, from use as an insectiside .

Herbarium Of Apuleius Platonicus : "Of those worts that we name Artemisia, it is said that Diana did find them, and delivered their powers and leechdom to Chiron the Centaur, who, first from these worts, set forth a leechdom, and he named these worts from the name of Diana, Artemis, that is Artemisias."

Diana was a Roman Goddess of fertility, the moon hunting, and associated with wild life, plant growth, marginal places, and named Artemis in Ancient Greece, the worship of whom goes back to Paeleolithic times. She was, if not treated with respect, known for her great wrath representative of nature against humans and was remembered for behaving bitterly towards mere men.

Other sources quote Artemisia II, 350 B.C. Wife Of King Mausolus Of Caria, S/W Anatolia,, as a keen botanist, and the plant named after her.


Country Names: Bucks,Yks,Ches). Dogs Ears, (Pemb). Mugwood,(Dur,Cumb). Docko,(Berks). Midgwort,(Dor). Fat Hen, wormwood,(Bucks). Sailors tobacco,(Hants). Mogvard, old uncles Harry,(Som). Apple pie, mugweed, (Ches). Smotherweed, green ginger, (Lincs). Bowlocks, bulward, galIwood, mugger muggons, (Scot). Moogard, (Caith). Megget kail, (Mor). Grey bulward, (Shet). Mugget mother, (Cumb, Scot, Ire). Miggert, (E. Fries). Muggert kail, (Ire). Council weed, (Bickerstaff/Melling in Lancs). Ballan bare or bullan feaill, (Manx). Felon herb.

Old English: Mater Herbarum: Mother Of Herbs. Also Mucgwyrt, Mogwort, mughworde, muguart, muggerwarte. 1000 A.D., Saxon Leechdom. I. 102 : "Herba Artemisia traganthes aet is mugcwyrt." 1000 A.D. Aelfric Gloss, in Wr. Wulcker 134/15 : "Artemisia, uel matrum herba, mugwyrt." Cingulum sancti Johannis, (Middle English) Johanniskraut, (Middle German). Couronne de St.Jean, (Middle French). Welsh : Llysiau leuan. All from use as a herb of St. John.

Current : miggiwurti, muggjo, muggert, beifuss, (German). Muckert, (Schleswig). Grabo, (Swedish). Amarella, (Italian). Armoise, (French). Sintjans-brod, (Dutch). Harilik puju, (Estonian). Pujo, (Finnish). Bylica pospolita, (Polish). _______: afsantin, (Arabic). Laanah : to curse, (Hebrew). Berendjasef, (Farsi). Hao-shu, Ai ye, (Chinese).


BSBI Picture Link to Artemisia vulgaris

TYPE: perennial aromatic plant, > or < caespitose. Branching rootstock. HP. HEIGHT : 60-120 cm. ROOTS : long woody, rootlets light brown, taste sweet, acrid. STEMS : erect, woody reddish, glabrous or thinly pubescent, grooved and angled stems. Large white central pith, narrow green peripheral tissues. LEAVES: (Vary in dissection) 5-8 x 2.5-5 cm. Dark green. Basal leaves short stalked, lyre shaped, pinnatifid, auricled. Stem leaves sessile, clasping bipinnate to pinnate, amplexi-caul. Uppermost simply pinnate or undivided. Ultimate segments lanceolate to oblong, 3-6mm wide, toothed or entire. Main veins translucent. Leaves glabrous on upper surface, white tomentose on lower. Infl. branches rather stiff. FLOWER HEADS : 3-4mm diam., narrowly campanulate to ovoid, numerous > or < erect, in a dense, sparsely leafy racemose panicle. Infl branches strict & nearly straight (Variable.) INVOLUCURE BRACTS : lanceolate to oblong > or < densley arachnoid-pubescent broadly scarious-margined. RECEPTACLE : has long hairs. FLOWERS: red-brown. Marginal female, tubular rim like pappus, lacking stamens. Central hermaphrodite. Bell shaped toothed corolla. Stigma lobes papillose. Spherical pollen grains, warted exiene. All flowers fertile, nectarless. Yellow. Wind pollination. Fl.7-9. 2n=16, 18. FRUIT : achenes 0.8-lmm, glabrous.

HABITAT : waste places, roadsides, hedgebanks stream & river sides, coastal areas, bomb sites stables. Dry sandy soil, full sun, N rich soil.

DISTRIBUTION : native, not infrequent. <2580 m. Britain to Ross, Orkneys. Temperate Europe, E. to Iran & S. to N. Africa. N. to 70N. Norway, Karchia + N. to 74N., Siberia. Introduced to Ireland and N.& S. America. BSBI Distribution Map for to Artemisia vulgaris (UK)

VARIETIES, CULTIVARS Var. indicus. Var parviflora, eaten in China. 'Silver King' 'Silver Mound' 'White' 'Bynes Variegated' 'Cragg-Barber Eye' 'Crispa'.


Aromatic Properties : (10) Musk and Honey Group : (B) Camphor & Eucalyptus Subgroup. Essential oil : eucalyptol, pungent herby smell. Volatile oil : 0.5-1.0 %, dark green, strong odour, bitter, acrid taste. Oil contains thujone, (absinthol or tenacetone.) thujyl alcohol, (free & combined with acetic, isovalerianic, succine & malic acids.) bisabolene, linlool, 8-cineole borneol, alpha & beta pinene, nerol, nerylacetate, linalul acetatene, vulgarole, alpha, beta & gamma cadinol, cadinenol, muurolol, spathulenol. Sequiterpene lactones : vulgarin, inulin, antibiotic polyacetylenes, cardinene, pellandrene, pinene, proazulene, hydroxycoumarins. Bitter glucoside flavanoids: absinthin (White crystalline compound C H 0.) quercitin-3-rhamnoglucoside, 5, 3'-dihydroxy-3, 7, 4' trimethoxyflavone, Coumarin derivatives : 7,8-methylendioxy-9-metho-xycoumarin. Triterepenes 3((beta))-hydroxurs-12-en 27,28-dionic acid, ((beta))-amyrin, ((beta))-sitosterol. Also absinthic acid with tannin, quercetin, phenolic acid, resin, starch, silica, nitrate of potash & other salts. thujone : is addictive, and in excess causes convulsions, psychoses, and brain damage. Also a skin irritant. Mugwort pollen will cross react with other Compositae to cause allergic reaction. Ashes yield a purer alkaline salt : an impure potassium carbonate, than other vegetables apart from broom & beanstalks.


Collect budding upper stems on a dry day, when dew has dispersed, reject lower parts. Tie loosely in bunches of 6 stems each. Hang in an open, ventilated, sunny site in half shade, in or out, or properties will be lost. Rub through a sieve when dry, and pack into airtight tins immediately.

EFFECT : Stimulant, tonic, nervine, carminative, stomachic, CNS depressent. stomachic, emmenagougue, diuretic, diaphoretic, cholagogue, digestive, expectorant, purgtive, diuretic, emetic, laxative, haemostatic, anthelmintic, antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal, antispasmodic, antirheumatic, analgesic, anodyne, aphrodsiac, chlorectic, counter irritant, larvicide, uterine, stimulant, tonic, vasodilator.

APPLICATION : Japanese Moxas : cure for rheumatism. Leaves heated, rubbed between hands until the cottony fibres remain made into small cones, burnt on meridian points of the body. Ayurvedic Medicine : Nervine, fungal infections. Menstrual: Utrine bleeding, threat of miscarriage, period pain, scanty menstruation, retained placenta. Vermifuge : thread, ring, pin & round worms. Nervine : restorative, stimulant, tonic, hysteria depression, loss of appetite, tonic, epilepsy, nervous dyspepsia, anorexia, fevers. Stomachich : sluggish digestion, flatulence, vomiting, constipation, diaorhhoea. Stimulant in liver stagnation, jaundice. Blood : haematemsis, hemoptysis, nosebleed. Lungs : colds, flu, asthma. Tincture/Decoction Or Infusion. 3 x a day. Do not use for pregnant women & children.


Known & used by Dioscorides. Herbarium Of Apuleius : Translated into Anglo Saxon in 1000 AD : "If any propose a journey, then let him take in hand this wort, Artemesia... then he will not feel much toil in his journey." This use lingered in Italy until 1925. 1529 'Crete Herball': "For merriment : Mugwort." 1549 Compleat Scotsman vi, 67 : "I sau Muguort, that is gude for the sufficatione of one womans bayrnis hed." 1622, Michael Drayton -. "The belly hurt by birth, by mugwort to make sound." 1640 Parkinson 'Theatrum Botanicum' : "Good for hysteria. (Root) coals used as an amulet about thse with falling sicknesse." 1650 T. Hill Natural & Artificial Conclusions CXLVI : "This (Root) cole.. only to be found on Midsummers Eve, just at noon, under every root of Plantaine & Mugwort, whosover finds will be free from plauge, fever, ague, other sundry disease . " 1652, Art Of Simpling : "If a footman take mugwort & put in his shoes, he may go 40 miles before he is weary. Placed in bath to relive fatigue. Mix with myrrh to speed up childbirth & expel the placenta." 1675 Practie Of Paul Barbette. 7. : "Falling Sickness : coals from under Mugwort... contains much volatile salt." 1694, J. Peechy, 'Compleat Herbal' "It is frequently used by women in & out in all diseases peculiar to them." II Dr Home : "Ointment with lard for boils, 3 drachms powder in wine for sciatica." Gerard "Mugwort cureth the palsie, the shakings of the joints". Withering : "1 drachm of powdered leaves cured a patient who sufferd from hysterical fit for years" Culpepper : "Infusion for stomach disorders, appetizer. Tops no flowers, dry & powder good for agues, kills worms. Juice of large basal leaves in dropsy ad jaundice. Infusion morning & evening helps hysterics, spleen obstructions, stomach. Oil of seds cure quotidians & quortans. Boiled in lard and laid on swellings of tonsils and quinsy in good." Also burnt in sick rooms to fumigate. Cramp : Apply lotion of chamomile, agrimony. Sciatica : Leaves dried & powdered in wine.


As an aromatic foliage plant in a herbaceuos border. Shaded or sunny site, well drained, slightly alkaline, loamy, fertile soil, grows well in poor, dry soil. Dislikes wet soil. 2ft apart. Division, autumn/spring. Greenwood or heel cuttings early summer-autumn. Fresh seed in autumn/spring, in containers, in cold cold frame. Stratify, sow in tray, refrigerate for 14 days. Bring into warm, germinates in 24 days. Keep free from weeds. Cut back in autumn. Suffers from aphids, galls and moth caterpillars. Is considered a severe weed, spreading rapidly by underground rhizomes, root secretes chemical that inhibits other plants. Casoron controls it. In agricultural cultivation, it yields 25-55kg (55-121 Ib) per acre (120 sq. yds).


Used to flavour beer before hops, and former Wormwood based spirits (as is less potent) as in Absinthe, which was valued as a nerve stimulant & restorative for millenia, but banned because in excess it caused brain damage. Was used as a tea substitute in Cornwall 70 years ago, when tea cost 75 p per Ib. Continent : Geese stuffed with it. Added to eel, carp, game, duck dishes. Mixed into rice cakes in Orient. Still sold in Spanish markets. Sheep & poultry relish Mugwort, unlike Wormwood, it was probably the Artemisia of Pantons who used it to fatten animals. Mongolian gerbils relish it.


Foodplant for Amphipyra tragopoginis, Antitype chi, Autographa gamma, Biston betularius, Caradrina morpheus, Coleophora artemisicolella, C. carelicxa, C. gardesanella, C. trochilella, Cucullia absinthii, C. argentea, C. artemisiae, C. fraudatrix, C. praecana, Depressaria leucocephla, D. silesiaca, Ematurga atomaria, Eupithecia absinthiata, E. icterata, E. innotata, E. orphnata, E. satyrata, E. subfuscata, Exaeretia allisella, Hellinsia lienigianus, Isophrictis striatella, Lacanobi contigua, Malacosoma castrense, Mniotype adusta, Naenia typica, Odontopera Orthosia gracilis, Ostrinia nubilalis, Phycitodes binaevellus, Polia bombycina, Pyrausta obsoletalis, Udea elutalis.


It was hung in bunches to attract flies in their 1000's which was then bagged and burnt. Placed in clothing to protect against insects and moths especially. A weak infusion makes a good insectiside. Essential oil kills larvae. Down used as a wick, soaked in saltpetre in China. Cosi : Mugwort smoked in Acorn cups with straw. Also used in herbal cigarettes. Carved in churches along with Maple, Oak, Hawthorn around 13thC. Fine sprays on roof bosses of Exeter Cathedral.


It was associated with powers of strength, psychic powers, healing & astral projection, prophetic dreams (a pillow full would induce them.) It was put in a shoe to prevent wild beasts, evil spirits, sunstroke, & fatigue on long journeys, with the saying : "Tollam re artemisia, ne lassus sim in via" Used in smudging for purification, was carried to increase lust. It cleansed tools of divination. Artemisia was supposed to have sprung up along the path of the serpent in the Garden Of Eden.

On of the herbs of St. John The Baptist in Holland, Germany, Britain, who wore a belt of it when wandering in the wilderness. Smoked over a St. Johns Day fire, it was then used to drive out demons, in China hung up against evil spirits. Worn around the head on St.Johns Eve against evil. A sprig of 'Muggurth' smoked on a St. John fire is found in Co. Cork Pitt Rivers Museum.

1000 A.D. Anglo Saxon "If theyd eat nettles in March S. Mugwort in May So many fine maidens wouldn't turn to the clay".
1525 Banckes Herball : "Gif this herbe be in a mannys hous, ther schal dvelle non wycked gost na na wycked spiritus." Used as such in Wales, I Of M & Ireland.
1529 Grete Herball : "Lesser Mugwort, laid under the door of the hous, man nor woman can anoy that hous." The secreted coals/coles beneath the roots, appearing on Midsummers Eve, were said to give protection from lightning, plauge & carbuncles.
1640, Parkinson, Theatrum Botanicum : "Coals used as an amulet...but oh! the weake and fraile nature of man!"
1650 T. Hill Natural & Artificial Conclusions CXLVI : "This cole is onely to be found on Midsummers Eve, just at noon, under Mugwort."
1675 Practice OF Paul Barbette, 7. : "Coals picked on St. Johns Eve from under Mugwort is not coal, but very old acid roots, contains much volatile salts."
1845, Wright, Halliwell 'Reliquiae Antiquae' I 53 "Where mugwort kept na elves na na eyyl thynges may com therin, ne qware herbe Jon comes nayther"
1847, Chambers, 'Popular Rhymes Of Scotland' : Mermaid On Galloway coast, told a man how to cure consumption in his lover : "Wad ye let the bonnie may die i' your hand And the Mugwort flowering in the land?" The Mermaid spoke to late, & as the young girls funeral passed the Firth Of Clyde, she speaks the old Anglo Saxon rhyme above, saying Muggons
1850 Carlyle Latter d. Pamph ii 71. : "Fill your thrashing floor with docks, ragweed, mugworts, and ply your flail upon them, that is not the method to obtain sacks of wheat."
Sprigs worn on 4th of July at the open air Parliment on Tynwald Hill, Isle Of Man since the Norse kindgom. Is birthday flower for 3 Nov, under Venus, symbolising happiness.

INFO LINKS FOR Artemisia vulgaris

Wikipedia (UK)
Plants For a Future (UK)
M Grieve A Modern Herbal (UK)
Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages (AUS)
Global Info Hub on Int. Medicine (MAL)
Nature Gate (FIN)
Virginia Tech Agri College (USA)

'Artemisia, Wild in the British Isles', Compiled by James M. Burton 2004
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