Herbs & Plants

Artemisia abrotanum

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Botanical Name : Artemisia abrotanum
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Artemisia
Species:A. abrotanum
Order: Asterales

Common Names: Southernwood, Lad’s love, Southern wormwood

Other common names include: old man, boy’s love, oldman wormwood, lover’s plant, appleringie, garderobe, Our Lord’s wood, maid’s ruin, garden sagebrush, European sage, sitherwood and lemon plant.

Habitat: Artemisia abrotanum is native to Eurasia and Africa but naturalized in scattered locations in North America.

Artemisia abrotanum is a deciduous Shrub growing to 1.2 m (4ft) by 1 m (3ft 3in).
It has has very fine bipinnate leaves with linear pointed segments and a strong characteristic fragrance. The flowers are yellowish-white. It is indigenous to Spain and Italy but widely cultivated as a garden plant elsewhere.  It  is not frost tender. It is in leaf 11-Mar It is in flower from Sep to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Wind.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought……


Succeeds in most soils, preferring a well-drained one that is not too rich. Easily grown in a well-drained circumneutral or slightly alkaline loamy soil, preferring a sunny position. Plants are longer lived, more hardy and more aromatic when they are grown in a poor dry soil. Tolerates a pH in the range 6.3 to 7.6. Established plants are drought tolerant. Plants succeed in maritime gardens. Southernwood is often grown in the herb garden, the leaves are very aromatic. It is best to cut the plant back fairly hard every spring in order to keep it compact and encourage plenty of new growth. The plant rarely produces flowers in British gardens. A good companion plant for cabbages. It is also a good plant to grow in the orchard, where it can help to reduce insect pests. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Seed – surface sow from late winter to early summer in a greenhouse. The seed usually germinates in 1 – 2 months at 15°c. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots. Once the seedlings are more than 15cm tall, plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or summer. Cuttings of young wood 8cm long, May in a frame. Cuttings of half-ripe wood with a heel, July/August in a frame
Edible Uses:.. Condiment; Tea….The young shoots have a bitter, lemony flavour and are used in small quantities as a flavouring in cakes, salads and vinegars. A tea is made from the young bitter shoots. The pungent, scented leaves and flowers are used in herbal teas. Young shoots were used to flavor pastries and puddings. In Italy, it is used as a culinary herb.
Medicinal Uses:
Anthelmintic; Antiseptic; Cholagogue; Deobstruent; Emmenagogue; Stomachic; Tonic.

Southernwood has a long history of domestic herbal use, though it is now used infrequently in herbal medicine. It is a strongly aromatic bitter herb that improves digestion and liver function by increasing secretions in the stomach and intestines, it stimulates the uterus and encourages menstrual flow, lowers fevers, relaxes spasms and destroys intestinal worms. The herb, and especially the young flowering shoots, is anthelmintic, antiseptic, cholagogue, deobstruent, emmenagogue, stomachic and tonic. The main use of this herb is as an emmenagogue, though it is also a good stimulant tonic and has some nervine principle. It is sometimes given to young children in order to expel parasitic worms and externally it is applied to small wounds in order to stop them bleeding and help them to heal. The herb is also used externally in aromatic bathes and as a poultice to treat skin conditions. Southernwood should be used internally with caution, see the notes above on toxicity. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women, especially in the first trimester of pregnancy, since it can encourage menstrual flow.

Other Uses:
Dye; Essential; Hair; Hedge; Hedge; Incense; Pot-pourri; Repellent.

Insect repellent. The growing plant repels fruit tree moths when growing in an orchard. The fresh plant can also be rubbed onto the skin to deter insects. The shoots can be dried for indoor use, they remain effective for 6 – 12 months. They are also said to repel ants. Shoots can be burnt in the fireplace to remove cooking odours from the house. The leaves have a refreshing lemon-like fragrance and are used in pot-pourri. An essential oil from the leaves and flowering shoots is used in perfumery in order to add certain subtle tones. A yellow dye is obtained from the branches. Plants can be grown as a low hedge, they tolerate quite hard clipping. An infusion of the plant is used as a hair tonic or conditioner

A yellow dye can be extracted from the branches of the plant, for use with wool. Its dried leaves are used to keep moths away from wardrobes. The volatile oil in the leaves is responsible for the strong, sharp, scent which repels moths and other insects. It was customary to lay sprays of the herb amongst clothes, or hang them in closets, and this is the origin of southernwood’s French name, “garderobe” (“clothes-preserver”). Judges carried posies of southernwood and rue to protect themselves from prisoners’ contagious diseases, and some church-goers relied on the herb’s sharp scent to keep them awake during long sermons.
A poem by Edward Thomas (1878 – 1917) concerns the herb: | Old Man or Lad’s Love

Known Hazards : Although no reports of toxicity have been seen for this species, skin contact with some members of this genus can cause dermatitis or other allergic reactions in some people. Safety during pregnancy is not known.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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