Spices and Medicinal Herbs
Spices and Medicinal Herbs
A complete guide to vegetables, spices & herbs

What are herbs?

Classification of herbs
Annual herbs

Biennial Herbs
- Caraway
- Mullein
- Primerose

Perennial Herbs

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Herb : Artemisia

(Botanical name: Artemisia Vulgaris)


Artemisia is also known as wormwood, mugwort, sagebrush, sagewort Felon Herb, St. John's Plant, Chrysanthemum Weed.


Artemisia is a large, diverse genus of plants with between 200-400 species belonging to the daisy family. It comprises hardy herbs and shrubs known for their volatile oils, usually in dry or semi-dry habitats.

It is the native of Temperate Europe and Asia and northern Africa. It is also present in North America where it is an invasive weed. It is a very common plant growing on nitrogenous soils, like weedy and uncultivated areas, such as waste places and roadsides.

English "mugwort" contains an element mu- meaning "fly, bug"; cf. Greek myia [µ??a], Russian mukha [????] and German Mücke "mosquito

Plant Description

It is a tall perenial herbaceous plant, frequently rising 3 feet or more in height with the purplish hue stem and woody root. It has a strong, rather resinous or "floral" taste similar to chrysanthemum leaves.

The fern-like leaves are 5-20 cm long and of many species are covered with white hairs. The leaves are smooth and of a dark green tint on the upper surface, they are once or twice pinnately lobed, the segments being lance shaped and pointed. It is in flower from July to September.

The flowers are in small oval heads; around 5mm long are radially symmetrical with many petals. The narrow and numerous capitula (flower heads) spread out in racemose panicles. They are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are either reddish or pale yellow.


Mugwort abounds on hedge banks and waysides in most parts of England. They are pollinated by Wind. The plant prefers well drained light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plants are easily grown in acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soil. It can tolerate a pH in the range 4.8 to 8.2. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

It inhibits the growth of nearby plants by means of root secretions. Seed - surface sow from late winter to early summer in a greenhouse and do not allow the compost to dry out. Harvest the young shoots when about 10 - 15cm long, pot up in a lightly shaded position in a greenhouse or cold frame and plant them out when well rooted.

Parts Used

The parts used are the leaves and the root. The leaves collected in August and dried and the root dug in autumn and dried. The roots are cleansed in cold water and then freed from rootlets. Drying is not complete until the roots are dry to the core and brittle, snapping when bent.

Mugwort root is generally about 8 inches long, woody, beset with numerous thin and tough rootlets, 2 to 4 inches long, and about 1/12 inch thick. It is light brown externally; internally whitish, with an angular wood and thick bark, showing five or six resin cells. The taste is sweetish and acrid.

The aromatic leaves of many species of Artemisia are medicinal, and some are used for flavouring. Most species have an extremely bitter taste.

Main Constituents

It contains many essential oils like terpenes and terpene derivatives, e.g., 1,8 cineol, camphor, linalool, thujone, 4-terpineole, borneol, a-cardinol and further mono- and sesquiterpenes. Quantitative and qualitative composition varies strongly with soil, climate, fertilizing, and harvest time. It also has high content of alcohol.

Thujone, the etheral oil, one of the oil's main constituents, is a monoterpenoid ketone, (approx 50 ppm)is also present in the plant which is toxic in nature. Pregnant women, in particular, should avoid consuming large amounts of mugwort.