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Artemisia vulgaris: Wikis


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Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Artemisia
Species: A. vulgaris
Binomial name
Artemisia vulgaris

Artemisia vulgaris (mugwort or common wormwood) is one of several species in the genus Artemisia which have common names that include the word mugwort. This species is also occasionally known as Felon Herb, Chrysanthemum Weed, Wild Wormwood, Old uncle Henry, Sailor's Tobacco, Naughty Man, Old Man or St. John's Plant (not to be confused with St John's wort).

It is native to temperate Europe, Asia and northern Africa, but 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.

It is a tall herbaceous perennial plant growing 1–2 m (rarely 2.5 m) tall, with a woody root. The leaves are 5–20 cm long, dark green, pinnate, with dense white tomentose hairs on the underside. The erect stem often has a red-purplish tinge. The rather small flowers (5 mm long) are radially symmetrical with many yellow or dark red petals. The narrow and numerous capitula (flower heads) spread out in racemose panicles. It flowers from July to September.

A number of species of Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) feed on the leaves and flowers; see List of Lepidoptera that feed on Artemisia for details.


Nomenclature and taxonomy

List of the cultivars


Mugwort is often said to derive from the word "mug" because it was used in flavoring drinks. However, this may be a folk etymology. Other sources say Mugwort is derived from the old Norse muggi, meaning "marsh", and Germanic "wuertz", meaning "root", which refers to its use since ancient times to repel insects, especially moths.[1] The Old English word for mugwort is "mucgwyrt" where "mucg-" could be a variation of the Old English word for midge "mycg". Wort comes from the Old English "wyrt" (root/herb/plant) which stems from the Old High Germany "wurz" (root) and the Old Norse "urt" (plant).[2] Mugwort is called chornobylnik in Ukrainian, and has given its name to the abandoned city of Chornobyl (Chernobyl in Russian). The name chornobyl has an interesting history, meaning "place where mugwort grows" in the related Indo-European languages.[citation needed]

Related species

There are other species in the genus Artemisia called mugwort:


19th century illustration

Mugwort contains thujone, which is toxic in large amounts or under prolonged intake. Thujone is also present in Thuja plicata (western red cedar), from which the name is derived. Pregnant women, in particular, should avoid consuming large amounts of mugwort. The species has a number of recorded historic uses in food, herbal medicine, and as a smoking herb. It is also used by many before sleeping, as it is thought that placing the herb inside the cover of a pillow and sleeping on the pillow can induce vivid dreams.[citation needed]


The leaves and buds, best picked shortly before the plant flowers in July to September, were used as a bitter flavoring agent to season fat, meat and fish. In Germany, known as Beifuß, it is mainly used to season goose, especially the roast goose traditionally eaten for Christmas. From the German, ancient use of a sprig of mugwort inserted into the goose cavity, comes the saying "goosed" or "is goosed".[citation needed]

In the Middle Ages Mugwort was used as part of a herbal mixture called gruit, used in the flavoring of beer before the widespread introduction of hops. Once again, it is possible that drinkers of the beer were not only intoxicated from the beer, but also from the hallucinogenic properties of the plant.

There are several references to the Chinese using mugwort in cuisine. The famous Chinese poet Su Shi (苏轼) in the 11th century mentioned it in one of his poems. There are even older poems and songs that can be tracked back to 3 BC. Mainly it was called Lou Hao (蒌蒿) in Mandarin. Mugwort can be prepared as a cold dish or can be stir fried with fresh or smoked meat.


Mugwort is also used in Korea to give festive rice cakes a greenish color. It is a common seasoning in Korean soups and pancakes. Known as a blood cleanser, it is believed to have different medicinal properties depending on the region it is collected. In some regions, mugwort thins the blood, while in another region, it is proposed to have hallucigenic properties, leading to some bonneted grandmothers passing out from direct skin contact (dermal absorption) with the active chemicals. For this reason, Koreans also wear a silk sleeve when picking mugwort plants.

In Korea, this herb is often used as a flavouring for soft ricecakes (called "sook-dok" or so-ok in current Korean common usage), soups, and other foods. Once cooked, the plant's hallucinogenic chemicals are neutralized.


Mugwort or yomogi is used in a number of Japanese dishes, including yōkan, a dessert, or kusa mochi, also known as yomogi mochi.

Mugwort rice cakes, or kusa mochi are used for Japanese sweets called Daifuku (which literally translated means 'great luck'). To make these take a small amount of mochi and stuff it or wrap it round a filling of fruit or sweetened azuki (red bean) paste. Traditional Daifuku can be pale green, white or pale pink and are covered in a fine layer of potato starch to prevent sticking.

Ingredients for kusa mochi[3]: Whole-grain sweet brown rice and Japanese mugwort (yomogi) herb.

Mugwort is a vital ingredient of kusa mochi (rice cake with mugwort) and hishi mochi (lozenge rice cake) which is served at the Doll Festival in March. In addition, the fuzz on the underside of the mugwort leaves is gathered and used in moxibustion. In some regions in Japan[4], there is an ancient custom of hanging yomogi and iris leaves together outside homes in order to keep evil spirits away. It is said that evil spirits dislike their smell. The juice is said to be effective at stopping bleeding, lowering fevers and purging the stomach of impurities. It can also be boiled and taken to relieve colds and coughs.


Mugwort pollen is one of main sources of hay fever and allergic asthma, in North Europe, North America and in parts of Asia.[5][6]. Mugwort pollen generally travels less than 2000 meters[7]. The highest concentration of mugwort pollen is generally found between 9 and 11 am. The Finnish allergy association recommends tearing as method of eradicating mugwort[7]. Tearing mugwort is known to lessen the effect of the allergy, since the pollen flies only short distance[7]].

Cooking is known to decrease the allergenicity of mugwort, but not enough to make the plant palatable.

Herbal Medicine

A mugwort leaf with the pointed leaves characteristic of a mature plant

The mugwort plant contains ethereal oils (such as cineole, or wormwood oil, and thujone), flavonoids, triterpenes, and coumarin derivatives. It was also used as an anthelminthic, so it is sometimes confused with wormwood (Artemisia absinthium). The plant, called nagadamni in Sanskrit, is used in Ayurveda for cardiac complaints as well as feelings of unease, unwellness and general malaise.[8]

Mugwort is used in the practice of traditional Chinese medicine in a pulverized and aged form called moxa from which we derive the English word "moxy"[citation needed]. The British RCT yielded results that indicate that moxibustion of mugwort was indeed effective at increasing the cephalic positioning of fetuses who were in a breech position before the intervention[citation needed]. In contrast, a Cochrane review in 2005 found that moxibustion may be beneficial in reducing the need for ECV, but stressed a need for well-designed randomised controlled trials to evaluate this usage[9]. Since it also causes uterine contractions, it has been used to cause abortion. It also plays a role in Asian traditional medicine as a method of correcting breech presentation. A study of 260 Chinese women at 33 weeks of pregnancy demonstrated cephalic version within two weeks in 75% of fetuses carried by patients who were treated with moxibustion, as opposed to 48% in the control group.[10] It has also been shown that acupuncture plus moxibustion slows fetal heart rates while increasing fetal movement.[11] Two recent studies of Italian patients produced conflicting results. In the first, involving 226 patients, there was cephalic presentation at delivery in 54% of women treated between 33 and 35 weeks with acupuncture and moxibustion, vs. 37% in the control group.[12] The second was terminated prematurely because of numerous coital treatment interruptions.[13]

In rats, Mugwort shows efficacy against trichinellosis.[14]

Folklore & Witchcraft

In the Middle Ages, mugwort was used as a magical protective herb. Mugwort was used to repel insects, especially moths, from gardens. Mugwort has also been used from ancient times as a remedy against fatigue and to protect travelers against evil spirits and wild animals. Roman soldiers put mugwort in their sandals to protect their feet against fatigue.[15] Mugwort is one of the nine herbs invoked in the pagan Anglo-Saxon Nine Herbs Charm, recorded in the 10th century.[citation needed]

Much used in witchcraft, mugwort is said to be useful in inducing lucid dreaming and astral travel/astral projection. Consumption of the plant, or a tincture thereof, prior to sleeping is said to increase the intensity of dreams, the level of control, and to aid in the recall of dreams upon waking. One common method of ingestion is to smoke the plant.[16]


  1. ^ Lust, J. (2005) The Herb Book 604.
  2. ^ Merriam Webster Dictionary
  3. ^ Mitoku
  4. ^
  5. ^ [1]
  6. ^ [2]
  7. ^ a b c [3]
  8. ^ Ramawat, K. G., Ed. (2004). Biotechnology of Medicinal Plants: Vitalizer and Therapeutic Enfield, New Hampshire: Science Publishers, Inc. 5.
  9. ^ Meaghan E Coyle, Caroline A Smith and Brian Peat (16 February 2005). "Cephalic version by moxibustion for breech presentation". Retrieved 2010-01-21. 
  10. ^ Cardini, F., and W. X. Huang. JAMA 280(18): 1580-1584, November 1998
  11. ^ Neri, I., et al. Journal of the Society for Gynecological Investigation 9(3): 158-162, May-June 2002
  12. ^ Neri, I., et al. Journal of Maternal-Fetal and Neonatal Medicine 15(4): 247-252
  13. ^ Cardini, F., et al. BJOG 112(6): 743-747, June 2005
  14. ^ Caner A, Döşkaya M, Değirmenci A, et al. (May 2008). "Comparison of the effects of Artemisia vulgaris and Artemisia absinthium growing in western Anatolia against trichinellosis (Trichinella spiralis) in rats". Exp. Parasitol. 119 (1): 173–9. doi:10.1016/j.exppara.2008.01.012. PMID 18325496. 
  15. ^ Wright, Colin, Ed. (2002). Artemisia. London; New York: Taylor & Francis. pp. 144. ISBN 0-415-27212-2.,M1. 
  16. ^ Hanrahan, Clare. "Mugwort". Retrieved 15 October 2009. 

External links


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies



Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Euasterids II
Ordo: Asterales
Familia: Asteraceae
Subfamilia: Asteroideae
Subtribus: Artemisiinae
Genus: Artemisia
Species: Artemisia vulgaris


Artemisia vulgaris, L.

Vernacular names

Dansk: Grå-Bynke
English: common wormwood
Magyar: Fekete üröm
‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Burot
Русский: Полынь обыкновенная
Türkçe: Ayvadana
Українська: полин, чорнобиль


USDA, NRCS. 2006. The PLANTS Database, 6 March 2006 ( Data compiled from various sources by Mark W. Skinner. National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.

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