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Wormwood, Absinthe (Artemisia absinthium)

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*Designated an invasive species in the following states, no sale: CO, ND, SD, WA, WI

Artemisia absinthium is a hardy herbaceous perennial plant that became quite famous as the primary ingredient in the alcohol spirit Absinthe. The leaves of this beautiful Artemisia species are spirally arranged and have a unique greenish-silver hue. The flowers are pale yellow, tubular, and begin to flower from early summer to early autumn.

Described as the most bitter of herbs, Artemisia absinthe, also called Wormwood, grew famous in Europe as a digestive tonic and an agent to help rid the body of parasites/worms. Artemisinin, a compound found in Wormwood, is thought to fight inflammation in the body and is currently being studied for a variety of medicinal uses including a viable treatment for malaria. Wormwood is also thought to inhibit cytokines, which are proteins secreted by your immune system that promote inflammation in the body.

Wormwood’s most notable plant compound though is thujone, which has some benefits but can be toxic in excess. The thujone content is what was implicated in causing hallucinations in those who consumed absinthe in the 19th century and thus the drink was banned for over a century. In the garden, Wormwood grows tall and billowy and acts a wonderful barrier plant that deters animals from the garden due to its lovely aroma and intensely bitter taste. The silvery foliage is delightful in moon gardens and the plant will multiply each year becoming a strong statement of grace and power.

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