Artemisia belongs to the daisy family with about 200 to 400 diversified species. It is known for its volatile oils. The herb is grown in semi- dry areas around the globe. It is a very aromatic herb with a bitter taste. This herb seems to have taken its place in the literary world. Shakespeare, Roald Dahl, and the Bible have mentioned the various names of the plant. In the literature mostly the bitter taste of the herb is characterized.
The name of this herb has its origin in Greek meaning “Diana” and is otherwise known as wormwood, sagebrush, green ginger, sagewort Felon herb, St’John’s Plant and chrysanthemum weed. The English call it as mugwort.
It is a native of temperate lands of Europe, Asia and Africa. A particular species of this plant is seen grown in northern America in land which is void of any kind of vegetation. It generally is a plant which inhibits the growth of other plant. They are usually found growing wild along the hedges like weeds, along the road side and open areas without vegetation. They usually grow in soil rich in nitrogen. They are perennial herbs growing up to 3ft and the leaves have a very bitter taste covered with small spikes to prevent them being eaten up by herbivorous animals.
Artemisia is useful to us in many ways:
The aromatic leaves have medicinal properties and are mostly used as flavoring agent in French cuisine. Usually the roots and the leaves of the plants are used and both are edible. The roots are pulled out washed and dried well before consumption. The roots taste sweet and acrid.
The leaves as mentioned earlier are aromatic, having extreme bitter taste and is used as flavoring agent. The leaves exhibit medicinal qualities. They contain many essential oils like terpenes and terpene derivatives and also contain high level of alcohol.
This is used as a mosquito and fly repellent.
The herb is used in flavoring beer, vodka and some vermouth.
Research has shown that mugwort has history of treating people with digestive disorder, worms and correcting menstrual cycle.
The herb is used in the drug “coarthem” an anti -malaria therapy supported by WHO.
It was used in treating seizure, epilepsy and fits and given as stimulants to drive away fatigue.
It shows properties of antiseptic, antispasmodic, expectorant and purgative.
It is widely used in Germany to flavor the famous roast duck during Christmas festival. In Japan it is used during festive season to color the sweet dumplings green. This herb is not used widely now due to its toxic properties.