Artemesia vulgaris (common wormwood, sage-wort, chrysanthemum weed)

description: herbaceous perennial

place of origin:

urban habitat: thrives on disturbed, compacted soil with high pH levels; is commonly found in vacant lots, rubble dumps, small pavement openings and cracks, soil stockpiles, along railroad tracks, highway banks and median strips, and in minimally maintained parks; its buried seeds can remain viable in the soil for many years; its dense colonies of growth in open areas can inhibit growth of other plants.

ecological function: can be used for phytoremediation in degraded urban landscapes by absorbing heavy metals and binding them to organic matter; erosion control on slopes; regenerates degraded soil.

history: Artemesia vulgaris was named for Greek goddess Artemis, and was introduced to North America in the 1800’s for a variety of medicinal purposes. It is currently considered to be invasive in most parts of the US and Canada. In traditional Chinese medicine, its dried leaves are burned on the skin to stimulate acupuncture points for treatment of rheumatism and was also used for correcting the position of breech births. In traditional European medicine, a tea made from its leaves was used to treat epilepsy, menstrual, menopausal and gastrointestinal problems and to increase the flow of urine and stimulate the appetite. It has also been used for centuries to repel insects, especially moths, from gardens. An infusion of the leaves and flowering tops has been used in the treatment of nervous and spasmodic affections, sterility, asthma and diseases of the brain. The plant also plays an extensive role in witchcraft practices and continues to be used in a variety of European and Asian cuisines. In Japan, the young leaves are used as a potherb and its dried leaves and flowering tops are steeped into tea. Its cooked leaves are said to aid in digestion of fatty foods. It was used to flavor beer before hops took over that role. Its pollen is an allergen and can be a major cause of fall hay fever.

Georgetown University Urban Herbs