This member of the compositae family is striking with its grey-green deeply divided leaves which are covered with fine silky hairs. With its silvery-green foliage wormwood is a very attractive plant. However, wormwood is also very poisonous; many insects are repelled or even killed by it. It has been used for centuries as a moth repellent, general pesticide and as a spray to repel slugs and snails. Before its toxicity was known it was used as the name implies, as a worming medicine for people and animals.
Use springs of Wormwood around the garden to deter insects. In the house a sachet made of wormwood leaves will keep moths at bay. A tea made from wormwood will repel insects effectively.
The foliage makes an excellent base for dried wreaths and winter bouquets but should be shaped while fresh as it is brittle when dry.
Wormwood is best known as the primary ingredient in absinthe. Absinthe enjoyed popularity as well as some controversy in the mid 19th century. It is now believed that regular use could either cause or exacerbate mental illness as well as having serious physical effects. The psychoactive principles are not well understood. The chlorophyll that remains after infusion gives absinthe its green colour.
Sowing: Late winter/late spring and late summer/autumn.
Wormwood is easily grown from seed. Surface sow at 1.5mm (1/16in) deep in pots or trays containing good seed compost. Do not cover the seed as they need light for germination. Make sure the compost is kept moist but not wet and seal inside a polythene bag until germination which usually takes 10 to 24 days at 20°C (68°F).
Transplant the indoor seedlings when large enough to handle into pots and grow on. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Space 30cm (12in). Water regularly until mature.
Although frost has little effect on wormwood, the herb is generally pruned in autumn. It self-seeds easily when happy, so deadhead it if you don't want seedlings.
For future use in insect sprays, dried arrangements or sachets, harvest the upper portions of the stalks when they are dry and in full flower. Pick out any damaged leaves.
Tie the stem ends together in bundles and hang upside down in a shady spot. Air dry for a few days, then put them into glass containers with tightly screwed down lids. Store in a dark place.
The best harvest is generally in the second and third year.
The herb contains a large amount of absinthin which is a water soluble growth inhibiting toxin which will secrete from its roots and wash off the leaves. It will leach into the soil, interfering and stunting the growth of plants in close proximity. It can be useful to repel insect larvae but it need only be planted on the edge of the area of cultivation. It can also be used successfully against weeds.
Putting dried sprigs of wormwood in the garden along side carrots and onions will mask their scent, confusing insects in particular the carrot rust fly. The dried wormwood will not have the growth inhibiting effects of the fresh herb.
Dried sprigs can also be used to repel fleas and moths indoors.
The plant's odour can make it useful for making a plant spray against pests. A tea made from wormwood will repel cabbage moths, slugs, snails, black flea beetles and fleas effectively.
• Simmer 8 oz Wormwood leaves in four pints of water for 30 minutes.
• Stir, strain, and leave to cool.
• Add castille soap to wormwood mixture.
Wormwoods are toxic so this spray must not be ingested. Mark the bottle as TOXIC and out of the reach of children. Use with caution until you see how it works for you.
Do not use on small plants or seedlings, and never use near to edible plants. Use only on established ornamental plants. For best results spray directly on the target insects. It is effective against: all insects including aphids, caterpillars, fleas, beetles and moths.
Artemisia species provide a wonderful range of greens from baby's breath to nettle green.
Artemisia absinthium is an ancient plant, it has been found in old herbal reference book named as Absinthium ponticum and Absinthium marinum 140 years before the binomial nomenclature system was invented by Linnaeus.
Absinthium is the name originally given to the plant. It is believed to come from the Greek word absinthion meaning ‘undrinkable’ a reflection of its very bitter taste.
The species name absinthium comes from its use in the beverage absinthe which enjoyed popularity as well as some controversy in the mid 19th century.
The common name Wormwood comes from its use as a worming medicine for people and animals. It is also referred to as Grand Wormwood, Absinth Sagewort and Old Woman.
The genus name artemisia ultimately derives from the Greek goddess Artemis (Roman Diana), the namesake of Greek Queens Artemisia I and II. A more specific reference may be to Artemisia II of Caria, a botanist and medical researcher who died in 350 BC. The genus includes over 400 plants, including the delectable herb tarragon.
Artemisia II of Caria, a botanist and medical researcher who died in 350 BC. She was the sister, the wife, (yes, that is correct) and the successor of Greek/Persian King Mausolus.Because of her grief for her brother-husband, and the extravagant and downright bizarre forms it took, she became to later ages "a lasting example of chaste widowhood and of the purest and rarest kind of love", in the words of Giovanni Boccaccio. In art she was usually shown in the process of consuming his ashes, mixed with drink. To perpetuate his memory she built at Halicarnassus the celebrated Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, listed by Antipater of Sidon as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and whose name subsequently became the generic term for any splendid sepulchral monument, the word mausoleum.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 200mg Average Seed Count 2,400 Seeds Common Name Absinthium, Absinthe Wormwood Other Common Names Grand Wormwood, Absinth Sagewort, Old Woman
Ancient names - Absinthium ponticum and Absinthium marinum
Family Asteraceae Genus Artemisia Species absinthium Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Small, yellow panicles toward top of plant. Natural Flower Time Early summer to early autumn Foliage Grey-green, deeply dissected Height 3-4m (36-48in) Spread 30cm (12in) Position Full sun or partial shade Soil Well drained, nitrogen rich. Time to Sow Late winter/late spring or late summer/autumn. Germination 10 to 24 days at 20°C (68°F). Harvest Harvest the upper portions of the stalks when they are dry and in full flower. Notes Herb