Artemisia Herb

Artemisia (pronounced /ˌɑrtɨˈmiːziə/)[1] is a large, diverse genus of plants with between 200 to 400 species belonging to the daisy family Asteraceae. It comprises hardy herbs and shrubs known for their volatile oils. They grow in temperate climates of the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere, usually in dry or semi-dry habitats. The fern-like leaves of many species are covered with white hairs.

Common names used for several species include wormwood, mugwort, sagebrush and sagewort, while a few species have unique names, notably Tarragon (A. dracunculus) and Southernwood (A. abrotanum). Occasionally some of the species are called sages, causing confusion with the Salvia sages in the family Lamiaceae.

Most species have strong aromas and bitter tastes from terpenoids and sesquiterpene lactones, which exists as an adaptation to discourage herbivory.[3]

The aromatic leaves of many species of Artemisia are medicinal, and some are used for flavouring. Most species have an extremely bitter taste. A. dracunculus (Tarragon) is widely used as a herb, particularly important in French cuisine.

Artemisia absinthium (Absinth Wormwood) was used to repel fleas and moths, and in brewing (wormwood beer, wormwood wine). The aperitif vermouth (derived from the German word Wermut, “wormwood”) is a wine flavored with aromatic herbs, but originally with wormwood. The highly potent spirits absinthe and Malört also contain wormwood. Polish vodka Zoladkowa Gorzka is flavoured with wormwood. Wormwood has been used medicinally as a tonic, stomachic, febrifuge and anthelmintic.

Some have taken dried Wormwood, placed it inside a coffee filter to form a sort of “pod” and then placed them under furniture and such as a natural way of repelling fleas from their home.

Artemisia arborescens (Tree Wormwood, or Sheeba in Arabic) is a very bitter herb indigenous to the Middle East that is used in tea, usually with Mentha also known as mint. In small quantities (in tea) its believed to have medicinal properties, pacifying various kinds of digestion turmoils. In larger doses it may have some hallucinogenic properties. In Israel Artemisia is sometimes referred to by the name “Shiva”, the Queen of Sheba.

Within such religious practices as Wicca, both Wormwood and Mugwort are believed to have multiple effects on the psychic abilities of the practitioner. Because of the power believed to be inherent in certain herbs of the genus Artemisia, many believers cultivate the plants in a “moon garden”.

The beliefs surrounding this genus are founded upon the strong association between the herbs of the genus Artemisia and the moon goddess Artemis, who is believed to hold these powers.

It is also said that the genus Artemisia (which includes over 400 plants) may be named after an ancient botanist. Artemisia was the wife and sister of the Greek/Persian King Mausolus from the name of whose tomb we get the word mausoleum. Artemisia, who ruled for three years after the king’s death, was a botanist and medical researcher, and died in 350 B.C.[4][5].

The bitterness of the plant led to its use by wet-nurses for weaning infants from the breast, as in this speech by Shakespeare from Romeo and Juliet Act I, Scene 3:

Nurse: …

 

And she [Juliet] was wean’d,–I never shall forget it, –
Of all the days of the year, upon that day:
For I had then laid wormwood to my dug,

{Information courtesy Wikipedia}