Common names (selected) English: chrysanthemum weed, common wormwood, felonherb, green-ginger, mugwort, sage-wort, St, John’s plant, wild wormwood; Chinese: 北艾; French: armoise commune, armoise vulgaire; German: gemeiner Beifuß, gewöhnlicher Beifuß; Polish: boże drzewko, bielica, bielicowe drzewko, bylnik; Portuguese: artemisia, evra-de-fogo, losna; Spanish: altamisa, artemisia, artemisia vulgar, hierba de San Juan; Swedish: gråbo; Russian (transliterated): černobyl'nik, polyn obyknovennaya
Description: Herbaceous perennial
Native regions and distribution: Native to temperate Asia, Europe, and North Africa but is widely distributed throughout the temperate and subtropical world.
Urban habitat: Thrives on disturbed, compacted soil with high pH levels and is commonly found in vacant lots, rubble dumps, small pavement openings and cracks, soil stockpiles, along railroad tracks, highway banks and median strips, and in minimally maintained parks. Its buried seeds can remain viable in the soil for many years. Dense colonies of growth in open areas can inhibit the growth of other plants.
Ecological function: Food and habitat for insects. Can be used for phytoremediation in degraded urban landscapes by absorbing heavy metals and binding them to organic matter and provides erosion control on slopes.
History / human uses: Artemesia vulgaris was named for Greek goddess Artemis and was introduced to North America in the 1800’s for a variety of medicinal purposes. It is currently considered to be invasive in most parts of the US and Canada. In traditional Chinese medicine, its dried leaves are burned on the skin to stimulate acupuncture points for treatment of rheumatism and was also used for correcting the position of breech births. In traditional European medicine, a tea made from its leaves was used to treat epilepsy, menstrual, menopausal and gastrointestinal problems and to increase the flow of urine and stimulate the appetite. It has also been used for centuries to repel insects, especially moths, from gardens. An infusion of the leaves and flowering tops has been used in the treatment of nervous and spasmodic affections, sterility, asthma and diseases of the brain. Several western Native American tribes including the Karok, Kiowa, Miwok, and Pomo, used the plant medicinally for women after childbirth, for colds, headaches, and rheumatism as well as using the plant ceremonially. The plant also plays an extensive role in witchcraft practices and continues to be used in a variety of European and Asian cuisines. In Japan, the young leaves are used as a potherb and its dried leaves and flowering tops are steeped into tea. Its cooked leaves is said to aid in digestion of fatty foods. It was used to flavor beer before hops took over that role. Its pollen is an allergen and can be a major cause of fall hay fever.