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



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Wyrtig - In early sources

Mugwort. Many thanks to the
British Library for providing this image fromEgerton 474 f. 7,
c. 1300 CE.


In Early Sources...

Artemesia vulgaris


Growing mugwort in your garden

Medieval Names


Artemesia, artemessia, arth[e]mesia , matrem herbarum , [m]ug, mucg, mucgwyrt, mugcwyrt, mugwurt, mugwyrt

Herbarium Apuleii

Artemesia, artemesiam, artemesiam leptefilos, artemisia leptefillos, artemisia tagantes, artemesia traganthes, moderworth, moderwort, mugwedd, mugworte, mucgwyrt, mugcwyrt, mvgwyrt


Mucgwyrt, mugcwyrt , mugwyrt


Mucguyrt, mucgwyrte, mucwyrt, mucwyrte, mycgwyrte

Walafrid Strabo


Mogworte or moderwort is clepid arthemesia for that she is modir of alle other herbes or for-thi that the modir or herbes hauyth 3ouyn her name. Diana, sikerly the which is cleipd in greke tonge Arthemesis, fonde up first the vertues of this herbe, and ther-fore is this herbe clepid arthemesia of her fynders name.

Macer, Mogworte

Artemesia is called mugwort or motherwort because she is mother of all other plants and for because she is the mother of plants has been given her name. Diana, the same that is called in Greek Artemesia, first discovered the virtues of this herb, and therefore this herb is called artemesia after her finder's name.

...This herbe is specially medicinal to women syknesses. For water of her decoccon, that is to say water that mugwort is soden in, drunkyn, purgith women of her floures and bringeth hem forth fro hem. With the same watir that this mogwort is soden in, wash and bath the matrice, and so shal thou clense women of her floures. Take the same herbe rawe, stampe it and drinke yt with wyn, and so 3he wole do the same. Take this herbe grene as she growith and stampe it and bynde here to the wombe, and she shal delyuere out the werpling [fetus who has died in the womb] ther-in.

...Take this herbe, grene as she growith, stampe it, put it in must and kepe this while it is fynyd wel, and this wyn shal be medecynall to all the sikenesses that be seide above ...This wyn shal be wel lykyng in savour, odour, or smellyyng. It comfortith the stomach and helith the entrailes that ben a-boute the hert if it be drunken, and men sayn that it is profitable to many other causes.

Macer, Mugwort

Witodlice as reo wyrta e e artemesias nemdon ys rd t diana hy findan scolde 7 heora mgenu 7 lcedom chironi centauro syllan se rest of yssum wyrtym lcnunge gesette 7 he as wyrta of naman re dianan t is artemesias genemnede.

Herbarium Apulieus XIII: iiii

Truly of these three plants that we name artemesias, it is said Diana found them, & delivered their power and healing to Chiron the Centaur, who first with these plants started healing, and these plants were named for Diana, that is Artemesias were named..

Anglo-Saxon Herbal, XIII: 4


    ...artemesia mugwort mater herbarum

...artemesia, mugwort, mother of plants

Harley Glossary


Some etymologies cite moughte, a moth, or muggjo, a fly or gnat, as the source of the name mugwort, for the plant is a fly repellant.

The name motherwort comes from moder, mother, or the womb, and refers to the plant's usefulness in treating a variety of women's illnesses.

To gather mugwort



Collect the leaves of mugwort and also the root in August; dry until brittle enough to snap when bent. Do this, fasting, early in the morning before the sun rises, and use only your left hand.

Against a journey over land ; lest one become faint, let them take mugwort in their hand, or put it in their shoe, lest one become weary, and when one will gather it, before sunrise, say these words first, loudly, when you pull it up:


Tellam te, artemesia,
ne lassus sum.

I pick you, artemesia,
that I will not be weakened.

        Leechbook of Bald, LXXXVI

+ Gemyne u  mucgwyrt

hwt  u ameldodest

hwt u renadest

t regenmelde

una u hattest

yldost wyrta

u miht wi .iii.

7 wi xxx.

u miht wi attre

7 wi  onflyge

u miht wi a laan

e geondlond fr

                  Lacnunga f. 9

+ Mind you mugwort

what you disclosed

what you rendered
at Regenmelde

The first you are called

oldest of plants

you mighty against 3

and against 30

you mighty against poison

and against infection

You mighty against the evil

that fares through the land

        Nine Herbs Prayer, Lacnunga f.9

Mugwort from
Exeter Cathedral

Like the hawthorn, maple, and oak, mugwort appears in the church carvings of the 1200s; on the Exeter cathedral corbel, for example. In the Middle Ages, another name for mugwort was cingulum Sancti Johannis, because John the Baptist wore a belt of this while in the wilderness.

As a  plant sacred to St. John, mugwort was picked and purified in the smoke of the teine fires on Midsummer's Eve, which is also St. John's Eve. It was hung over the door to keep away evil.. A crown of mugwort worn on Midsummer's Eve would protect the wearer from demonic possession.

With mugwort in the house, "...na elves na
na evyll thunges may com therin, na
qware herbe Jon comes noyther."

Lyf hwa mid fotadle swye 7 hefelice geswence sy . onne genim u ysse ylcan wyrte wyrtwalan syle etan on hunige 7 est sona he bi gehle 7 aclnsod swa t u ne wenst t heo mge swa mycel mgen habban.

Herbarium Apulieus XIII: ii


If one with gout is severely troubled, then take you this same plant root, give it to eat in honey, & soon one is healed and cleansed so that one doesn't believe that this could have this great a power.

Anglo-Saxon Herbal, XIII:ii

Mermaid, from British Library
Sloane 278, f47, c. 1274 CE.

A mermaid off the coast of Galloway, Scotland, referring to the tonic qualities of mugwort eaten early in the spring, was once heard to sing:

If they wad drink nettles in March

and muggins in May

S mony braw maidens

Wadna gang to the clay.

           E. M. Wright, Rustic Speech (1913)

Muge he is and mondrake
thourgh might of the mone,

Trewe triacle itold

with tonges in trone.

"Annot and Iohon,"
Harley 2253

Mugwort she is, and mandrake

by the might of the moon,

True elixir as told

by tongues enthroned.

"Annette and John,"
     Harley MS 2253

7 gif ysse wyrte wyrttruma By ahangen ofer hwylces huses duru onne ne mg nig man am huse derian.

Herbarium XIII.ii

& if this plant's root be hung over that house's door, then no one may damage that house.

Anglo-Saxon Herbal, XIII.2

onne hwa sift onginnan wille onne genime he him on hand s wyrte artemisiam 7 hbbe mid him onne ne ongyt he na mycel to geswynce s sies…

Herbarium Apuleius XII.1

Then if any will begin a journey, have them take in hand this plant, artemesia, and have it with them, then they won't feel much discomfort on this travel.

Anglo-Saxon Herbal, XII.i

Please note:
Many plants have been used in past and present times for medicinal purposes, and as one of the focuses of Wyrtig is the history of gardening, these uses are discussed here. However, common sense requires that you consult your family physician or other health care provider before using any plant materials for medicinal purposes. The old saying that "A doctor who treats him- (or her-) self has a fool for a patient" is no less true in herbal medicine than in any other branch of the healing sciences. Herbal remedies should not be used by the uninformed; medical advice should be sought before using any herbal remedy.

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