OE wyrtig, adj: Garden-like, full of plants;
On anum wyrtige hamme, Homl. Skt. ii. 30:312



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Artemesia vulgaris


Artemesia vulgaris


Mugwort in early sources

Description      Propagation      Cultivation        Harvest

Scientific name

Artemesia vulgaris

Artemesia takes its name from Artemis, Diana, the goddess who first introduced the plant to Chiron the Centaur, who used it for healing.

Vulgaris from Latin vulgus, common

Common names, modern Mugwort, chrysanthemum weed, common mugfelon herb, felon herb, old man's plant, St. John's plant, old Uncle Henry, sailor's tobacco, wild wormwood  


Lifespan Perennial
Cold hardiness Hardy to Zone 3
Size An erect plant, mugwort grows 3' to 6' tall, and half as wide.

As many as 20 upright stems may arise from a single root system. These stems will develop into leafy, shrubby little plants that are broader at the base and come to a point at the top, eventually taking the shape of an elongated, shaggy cone.


Mugwort blooms from midsummer to fall, carrying its tiny whitish yellow flowers in loose panicles at the tips of upright, leafy stems. Each central stem will have many flowering branches.


Mugwort leaves are pinnate and deeply cut; they hang somewhat loosely from the stems, which may be slightly purplish.

Mugwort can be distinguished from wormwood by looking its leaves, which are a smooth, bright green on top, and a downy silver on the underside.

By seed Sow seed on the surface of potting soil and mist so seeds are in good contact with soil. Put the pot in a plastic bag, close tightly, and refrigerate the pot for two weeks. Then move the pot to a warm spot with good light; keep pots covered with clear plastic until seed germinates, then remove plastic. Keep soil moist but not wet and bring seedlings on in good light. Harden off for two weeks before transplanting in the garden where you want them to grow.
Moisture Keep seed moist until it germinates.
Light Needs light to germinate, so surface sow, and then mist or water lightly so seed is in good contact with soil.
By root division Another way to propagate is to buy one plant, grow it in your garden (or outside in a large pot) for a season. When the plant is growing well in its second spring, divide it gently to create several clumps with roots, and plant those where you want them to grow, watering them well. Keep them watered (but not sodden) until they are established.
Comments Mugwort spreads by underground stems or rhizomes, and can become invasive. It can be grown in pots, however, and this will contain its roots.


Soil This plant likes sandy, open ground with dry, nitrogen- and lime-rich soil; doesn't do well where soil is too wet.
Moisture Tolerates drought
Light Full sun
Natural habitat Native to temperate zones of Europe, Africa, and Asia; has naturalized in North America. It prefers dry soils and does well in ditches and on waste ground.
Vigor Very vigorous, can become invasive.


Many different kinds of butterfly feed on mugwort; see
a list here

Season to bloom/bear Harvest leaves in August; dry carefully to avoid mold.

Roots are gathered in the autumn, cleaned, and dried.

Comment A weak tea brewed from the leaves is a good insect repellent for plants. Mugwort is also used as a seasoning, and a poultice.

Some people are allergic to mugwort; watch for signs of skin irritation as you work with it. Mugwort may also promote uterine contractions, and should be avoided by pregnant women.

Learn more about mugwort at "Plants for a Future"


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