What is Wormwood
What is wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)? Wormwood is native to Europe, Asia, and Africa and can grow from 12-72 inches (30-180 cm) in height. It is a subshrub perennial and is one of the oldest known remedies for intestinal worms. Since ancient times, it has been highly valued and is mentioned in the Bible 10 times. One of its’ famous uses to make the anise-flavoured spirit absinthe.
Uses of Wormwood
The bitter leaves are essential in absinthe, spirits, wines, vermouth, and other liqueurs. Absinthe is said to be a toxic spirit, although it can still be purchased in many countries. It may have hallucinogenic properties. Some famous drinkers of absinthe are Oscar Wilde, Vincent Van Gogh and Ernest Hemingway.
Despite its bitterness, the leaves can be used to make tea. Just be sure to use only a few fresh leaves, or it can get quite bitter!
Potential Wormwood Health Benefits
Since ancient times it has been used as a powerful tonic. Some uses are as an antiseptic, antidiuretic, and it may help regulate menstruation. Other uses are to treat stomach, intestinal, liver and kidney problems. Wormwood may help to stimulate appetite and improving digestion.
In the garden, wormwood can be used in companion planting. It can repel insect larvae, moths, fleas and ticks, although I am not sure of how effective it is.
The plant is rich in essential oils, namely thujone, and absinthol. Thujone is reportedly toxic to the brain. It also contains other toxins. Before consuming wormwood, you should consult a health professional.
How to Grow
Wormwood loves nitrogen-rich soil and tolerates dry conditions. It can be grown in full sun to partial shade. Hardy in zones 3-9 and prefers fertile, moist, well-draining soil with a pH of 5.5 to 7. Water the soil thoroughly and then surface sow the seeds. For best germination results grow indoors in sterilized soil. Once the seedlings have at least two sets of leaves, they can be transplanted outside after the last risk of frost.
If you live in Canada, you can purchase the seeds here.
Have you tried growing it in your garden? Let us know your experience with it in the comment section below.