Family: Asteraceae (Compositae), Artemisia abrotanum L.

Source: Simon, J.E., A.F. Chadwick and L.E. Craker. 1984. Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography. 1971-1980. The Scientific Literature on Selected Herbs, and Aromatic and Medicinal Plants of the Temperate Zone. Archon Books, 770 pp., Hamden, CT.

Southernwood, Artemisia abrotanum L., is an erect-growing perennial shrub native to southern Europe and valued as both an ornamental and aromatic plant. Formerly classified as Artemisia procera Willd., this showy, pleasant-smelling species is also grown in the eastern portion of the United States. Reaching a height of 2 meters, the plant is characterized by its many branches, gray-green aromatic leaves, and rarely blooming yellow-white flowers.

The reported life zone of southernwood is 7 to 19 degrees centigrade with an annual precipitation of 0.4 to 1.3 meters and soil pH of 5.6 to 7.6 (4.1-31). The plant thrives in good soil and full sun.

Although primarily grown as an ornamental, the plant has an essential or volatile oil containing absinthol (11.1-50). The lemon-scented leaves and flowers are sometimes used in herbal teas. Young shoots have been used to flavor pastries and puddings (14.1-23). Branches are used to produce a dye of deep yellow color for use with wool (11.1-50).

As a medicinal plant, southernwood was traditionally considered an antiseptic, astringent, emmenagogue, febrifuge, stimulant, tonic, stomachic, and vermifuge. It has also been used against coughs, tumors, and cancers (14.1-13). Southernwood is thought to be an insect and moth repellent.

Field southernwood, Artemisia campestris L., is a native of Europe and Asia that is used locally as a medicinal plant.

[Note: References listed above in parentheses can be found in full in the original reference].

Aromatic and Medicinal Plants Index

Last modified 6-Dec-1997