I have been fascinated by the names given to these perennial shrubs. I found them in my favourite book by Margaret Roberts on “Companion Planting” and became interested in the Artemesia species because of their insect repellant and anti-fungal properties. Through my recent research, I came across some interesting information that I did not know about this plant!! 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. The Powis Castle is commonly known as Wormwood – I thought they were different! Hmmm! As you can see below the Powis Castle (left) is very similar to the Wormwood (right).
Wormwood – Artemesia Absinthium – This herb, also commonly known as mugwort, is immortalized in history as being one of the most valued in the world, with a volatile essential oil extract from the leaves and roots. The active ingredient of this herb is called thujone. When this is chemically pure, it becomes a colorless liquid with menthol aroma. Thujone is extensively used by many pharmaceutical products, one of which is Vicks Vaporub (very interesting!)
A hardy plant that can tolerate slight drought, it thrives in full sun and can tolerate partial shade. It is ideally planted in heavy clay that has been amended with humus and sand. The woody roots of this plant secrete a certain chemical that inhibits the growth of other plants around it. This is a unique weed-like characteristic of the Artemisia herb. The way the herb places chemicals into the soil has made it listed as a noxious weed, as the poisonous nature (hmmm….!) of its roots is treacherous to other plants. I better move this away form my roses, where I planted it!!
The plant’s characteristic odor can make it useful for making a plant spray against pests. It is used in companion planting to suppress weeds, because its roots secrete substances that inhibit the growth of surrounding plants. It can repel insect larvae when planted on the edge of the cultivated area. It has also been used to repel fleas and moths indoors. In folk medicine, wormwood preparations are used internally for gastric insufficiency, intestinal atonia, gastritis, stomach. ache, liver disorders, bloating, anemia, irregular menstruation, intermittent fever, loss of appetite, and worm infestation.
Externally, the drug is applied for poorly healing wounds, ulcers, skin blotches, and insect bites.
How amazing how the leaves of the plant can be both beneficial and health given and at the same time the roots can be poisonous! Nature works in mysterious ways!