Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Artemisia vulgaris

The fresh or the dried plant repels insects, it can be used as a spray but caution is advised since it can also inhibit plant growth[20]. A weak tea made from the infused plant is a good all-purpose insecticide[201]. An essential oil from the plant kills insect larvae[218].

The down on the leaves makes a good tinder for starting fires[115].

  • Medicinal Use

    Mugwort has a long history of use in herbal medicine especially in matters connected to the digestive system, menstrual complaints and the treatment of worms[238]. It is slightly toxic, however, and should never be used by pregnant women, especially in their first trimester, since it can cause a miscarriage[7, 238]. Large, prolonged dosage can damage the nervous system[268].

    All parts of the plant are anthelmintic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, digestive, emmenagogue, expectorant, nervine, purgative, stimulant, slightly tonic and used in the treatment of women’s complaints[4, 7, 13, 21, 147, 165, 178, 201].

    The leaves are also said to be appetizer, diuretic, haemostatic and stomachic[176, 218, 222]. They can be used internally or externally[218]. An infusion of the leaves and flowering tops is used in the treatment of nervous and spasmodic affections, sterility, functional bleeding of the uterus, dysmenorrhoea, asthma and diseases of the brain[176, 243]. The leaves have an antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus typhi, B. dysenteriae, streptococci, E. coli, B. subtilis, Pseudomonas etc[176]. The leaves are harvested in August and can be dried for later use[4].

    The stem is also said to be antirheumatic, antispasmodic, and stomachic[218].

    The roots are tonic and antispasmodic[243]. They are said to be one of the best stomachics[4]. They are harvested in the autumn and dried for later use[4].

    The leaves, placed inside the shoes, are said to be soothing for sore feet[238].

    The compressed dried leaves and stems are used in moxibustion[176, 178, 218, 222, 238]. Another report says that the down from the leaves is used[4].

  • Edible Use

    Leaves – raw or cooked[2, 9, 12, 27, 177]. Aromatic and somewhat bitter[244]. Their addition to the diet aids the digestion and so they are often used in small quantities as a flavouring, especially with fatty foods[183, 244]. They are also used to give colour and flavour to glutinous-rice dumplings (Mochi)[183, 244]. The young shoots are used in spring[46]. In Japan the young leaves are used as a potherb[183].

    The dried leaves and flowering tops are steeped into tea[183]. They have also been used as a flavouring in beer, though fell into virtual disuse once hops came into favour[4].

  • Cautionary Notes

    The plant might be poisonous in large doses[21]. Skin contact can cause dermatitis in some people[222].

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – surface sow from late winter to early summer in a greenhouse and do not allow the compost to dry out. When large enough to handle, prick out the seedlings into individual pots. If growth is sufficient, they can be planted out into their permanent positions in the summer, otherwise grow them on in a cold frame for their first winter and then plant them out in the spring. Division in spring or autumn. Basal cuttings in late spring. 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. Very easy.
Easily grown in a well-drained circumneutral or slightly alkaline loamy soil, preferring a sunny position and a moist soil[1, 14, 200]. Plants are longer lived, more hardy and more aromatic when they are grown in a poor dry soil[245]. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.8 to 8.2. Established plants are drought tolerant[200]. Mugwort is an aggressive and invasive plant[14], it inhibits the growth of nearby plants by means of root secretions[20, 201]. The sub-species A. vulgaris parviflora. Maxim. is the form that is eaten in China[179]. There are some named varieties[200]. ‘White’ is a taller plant than the type species, growing to 1.5 metres. It has a strong, rather resinous or “floral” taste similar to chrysanthemum leaves and is used in soups or fried as a side dish[183]. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer[233].
Throughout most temperate regions of the northern hemisphere, including Britain.

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.