The Many Faces of Artemisia


| October/November 1993


With two to three hundred diverse species, the genus Artemisia offers something for every herb lover—gourmet flavor in the kitchen, outstanding ornamentals in the garden, and mainstays for the craft shop.

The group includes annuals, biennials, and perennials; many species are woody or semiwoody, and some with creeping rootstocks are ­invasive. Except for white mugwort (see below), artemisias generally have insignificant yellow or white flowers. But they are usually grown for their superb foliage, which comes in countless shapes: broadly strap-shaped, lobed, ferny, delicately lacy. Colors run the gamut from dark green to grays and silvers, even sparkling white. The green species tend to have smooth leaves, while the grayer leaves may be hairy, woolly, or felted; you may need a magnifying glass to make out the hairs.

Artemisias, members of the vast daisy family, Compositae (Asteraceae), are native to north temperate lands as well as western South America and South Africa. Many are native to the American West: The characters in Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage traveled through artemisias (Artemisia tridentata, most likely), not purple ­garden sage (Salvia officinalis ‘Purpurascens’), which is native to Mediterranean Europe. Settlers familiar with the European sage noted the resemblance in aroma to the American herb and not only gave it the same common name but sometimes also used it to flavor their food. In fact, pungent fragrance is characteristic of many artemisias, although the flowers of sweet Annie and white mugwort are sweetly scented and the leaves of the epicurean herb French tarragon smell deliciously of anise.

Most artemisias thrive in lean, well-drained soil and full sun, and most are eminently suitable for xeriscapes. Most are hardy in zones 4 through 9, ­although the humid heat of southern summers can do them in, especially if they are planted in rich soil.



Some forms tend to flop. Avoid fertilizing or planting in shade to help prevent this. Pruning will help keep plants compact, and sticks or inconspicuous cages can prop up the droopiest.

A few artemisias can be grown from seed, but most, especially French tarragon and the cultivars mentioned below, are propagated vegetatively. ­Divide plants in spring or fall. You can also root stem cuttings of new growth taken in early summer, or try rooting slightly older cuttings taken with a “heel” (a bit of the main stem) later in the summer (see “Growing Herbs from Stem Cuttings”, Herb Companion, February/March 1993). Go easy on misting, as the cuttings rot easily.







mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: August 4-5, 2018
Albany, OR

Sit in on dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on natural health, organic gardening, real food and more!

LEARN MORE









Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265