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Herbs - Roots - Vegetables
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Artemesia absinthium

Artemisia - Wormwoods

The wormwoods comprise a very large genus of bitter or aromatic herbs and low shrubs, family Compositae, found in most countries, and cultivated since ancient times for their aromatic qualities, for ornament, or as seasoning ( including tarragon). They have alternate, mostly divided or dissected leaves. Flowers in small heads, wholly made up of disk flowers (see Compositae), not showy except in a few species, prevailingly greenish-yellow. (Artemisia is the Latin name of the mugwort.)

Many of the species have silvery coating to the leaves and, like similarly clothed plants, they do not tolerate much winter moisture. Otherwise, except as noted below, they are of easy culture, generally growing better in poor and sandy soils than in rich ones. The perennials are easily increased by division of the roots, the others by seeds. All bloom in the summer, and prefer open sunshine. 

The European varieties are:

  • Abrotanum. Southernwood; called, also, old man. A grayish-green-foliaged, woody, perennial herb, 2-1/2-4 ft. high. Leaves divided into sections. Flower heads 1/8 in. in diameter, yeIlowish-white. Southern Europe. 
  • Absinthium. The classical wormwood, and an ingredient of absinthe. A white, hairy, woody pereunial herb 2-1/2-4 ft. high. Leaves divided into 2 or 3 oblongish segments. Flower heads 1/8 in. wide, greenish, very numerous. Europe.
  • canadensis. Sea or wild wormwood. An American perennial herb, seldom over 2 ft. high, usuaIly grayish, but without hairs. Leaves with 2 main divisions, but these much cut into fìne segments. Flower heads about 1/8 in. across, greenish and very plentiful in long, narrow clusters. Eastem N .A. and westward.
  • canescens = Artemisia vulgaris.
  • Dracunculus. Tarragon; called, also, estragon. A perennial, green, completely smooth herb, the aromatic foliage of which is used for seasoning. Leaves basal and on the stem, the latter narrow and undivided, the basal ones 3-parted toward the tip. Flower heads 1/8 in. wide, whitish green. Eurasia. For culture see TARRAGON.
  • glacialis. An alpine perennial for the rock garden, scarcely over 4 in. high, with much-divided leaves and small, golden-yellow flower heads. European Alps. Plant in gritty or sandy soil.
  • lactiflora = Artemisia vulgaris lactiflora.
  • pedemontana. As offered, usually a forrn of A. pontica.
  • pontica. Roman wormwood. A shrubby, perennial herb, 1-2 ft. high. Leaves much dissected into linear segments that are ashy-gray beneath. Flower heads 1/8 in. wide, whitish-yellow, but often failing to develop. Europe.
  • vulgaris. Mugwort. A much-branched, often purplish-stemmed perennial herb, 2-3-1/2 ft. high. Leaves fragrant, white-hairy beneath, cut into oblong, mostly toothed segments. Flower heads yellow, 1/8 in. wide in clustered spikes. Eurasia, naturalized in N .A., and often a trouble-some weed. An especially fìne form, with white heads, is called var. lactiflora.


The artemisia found in Istria are:

  • A. abrotanum L.
  • A. absinthium L.
  • A. alba Turra
  • A. annua L.
  • A. caerulescens L.
  • A. campestris L. (only in the Triestino) 
  • A. maritima L. 
  • A. verlotiorum Lamotte
  • A. vulgaris L.


  • Norman Taylor, Taylor's Encyclopedia of Gardening, 4th Ed., Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston (Cambridge, 1961), p. 72-3.
  • Addendum - Dr. Walter Starmühler, Wiener Straße 58/1/5, A-8020 Graz;  Tel.: +43/316/913103
    Fax: +43/316/913103, Mobil: +43/676/4031745 and e-mail:

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Created: Wednesday, June 12, 2002; Last updated: Friday, October 25, 2013
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