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MUGWORT ( Artemisia vulgaris L. )
Names in Other Languages:

English Mugwort
French Armoise, Ceinture de Saint-Jean
German Beifuß
Spanish Artemisa
Italian Amarella, Assenzio selvatico
Turkish Misk otu, Çil baş, Adi pelin, Ayvadana, Sıtma otu, Yavşan otu
Japanese 蓬 Yomogi, おうしゅう蓬 Ōshū-yomogi

FAMILY: Asteraceae

ORIGIN:   : Europe and Western Asia.

Dried mugwort leaves


Mugwort leaf
GENERAL DESCRIPTION:

It is a tall herbaceous perennial plant growing about 1-2 m tall, with a woody root. The leaves are 5-20 cm long, dark green, pinnate, with dense white tomentose hairs on the underside. The erect stem often has a red-purplish tinge. The rather small flowers are radially symmetrical with many yellow or dark red petals. The narrow and numerous flower heads spread out in racemose panicles.

USEFUL PARTS:

Leaves, but it is best to cut leaves just before flowering.

SENSORY PROPERTIES: Aromatic and bitter.

Mugwort: Leaves front and back side, flowers


MAIN CONSTITUENTS:

The essential oil (0.03 to 0.3%) contains a wealth of different terpenes and terpene derivatives, e.g., 1,8 cineol, camphor, linalool, thujone, 4-terpineole, borneol, α-cardinol and further mono- and sesquiterpenes. Quantitative and qualitative composition varies strongly with soil, climate, fertilizing, and harvest time.

Source: www.socalasatru.org/
images/mar09_00c.jpg


Thujone, one of the oil’s main constituents, is a monoterpenoid ketone also appearing in sage, thuja and, according to some sources, in a close relative of mugwort. It is commonly hold responsible for the toxicity of wormwood-flavoured alcoholics, particularly absinthe, the drug of the age in France a hundred years ago (Fin de siècle). Absinthe was a potent liqueur flavoured with anise, fennel, plenty of wormwood and other plants; it was drunk together with water and sugar. The high alcohol content (often exceeding 60%) and the thujone both contributed to its psycho-active properties. Since chronic consume resulted in severe nerve damage, absinthe was banned in nearly all European countries, with the exception of Portugal and Spain. Liqueurs based solely on anise could establish themselves as alternatives for absinthe. As wormwood taste intensively bitter, it is almost impossible to incorporate quantities sufficient for thujone poisoning by accident. Even if the thujone is separated from the bitter absinthin by distillation, the resulting product is still too bitter to drink without sugar. Wormwood-flavoured wine contains only traces of thujone. A volatile oil, an acrid resin and tannin.

MAIN USES IN FOOD PROCESSING:

Like the closely related southernwood, mugwort is only occasionally used as a spice. Its bitter taste fits best to fat fish or meat. Occasionally, young mugwort leaves are eaten raw as a salad.

The most important culinary application for mugwort is with roast goose, a traditional Christmas food in Germany. Either a few sprigs of mugwort are placed in the bird's cavity before baking or, if the goose is to be stuffed, the stuffing is flavoured with mugwort.

The most popular stuffings for this festive dish are based on apples and chestnuts, which go well with the Mediterranean spices thyme, rosemary and bay leaf.

The closely related wormwood is used to flavour alcoholic drinks and the thujone component of the essential oil is commonly held responsible for the toxicity of such drinks, particularly absinthe. Absinthe is a potent liqueur flavoured with anise, fennel, wormwood and other plants drunk with water and sugar. As chronic consumption resulted in severe nerve damage, absinthe was until recently banned in European countries except Portugal and Spain. Liqueurs such as pernod, based solely on anise, established themselves as alternatives for absinthe. As wormwood tastes intensively bitter, it is almost impossible to incorporate quantities sufficient for thujone poisoning by accident. Even if the thujone is separated from the bitter absinthin by distillation, the resulting product is still too bitter to drink without sugar.

MEDICINAL PROPERTIES:

It has stimulant and slightly tonic properties, and is of value as a nervine and emmenagogue, having also diuretic and diaphoretic action.It is also useful as a diaphoretic in the commencement of cold.

Mugwort is valued in palsy, fits, epileptic and similar affections, being an old-fashioned popular remedy for epilepsy (especially in persons of a feeble constitution). A drachm of the powdered leaves, given four times a day, is stated by Withering to have cured a patient who had been affected with hysterical fits for many years, when all other remedies had failed.

The juice and an infusion of the herb were given for intermittent fevers and agues. The leaves used to be steeped in baths, to communicate an invigorating property to the water.

REFERENCES and SOURCES:

http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Arte_vul.html

http://aidanbrooksspices.blogspot.com/2007/10/mugwort.html

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/m/mugwor61.html