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Mugwort an herbaceous shrub that averages one to two meters in height. In the spring, small pale yellow flowers bloom forming aromatic clusters. The smooth leaves of the Mugwort herb have serrated edges, and range from light yellow to dark green in color. The under surface of the Mugwort leaves are white, which is a distinguishing character in identifying various species. The Mugwort herb gives off a spicy aroma that is similar to sage and has a herbaceous grassy flavor.
Fresh Mugwort is available in the late summer and fall, whereas dried Mugwort is available year-round.
Mugwort is an herb commonly linked to magic and has been used since ancient Roman times. Known botanically as Artemisia vulgaris, Mugwort is a leafy shrub in the Daisy family. It has many pseudonyms: Felon Herb, St. John's Plant, chrysanthemum weed, and mugwort wormwood. In the Middle Ages it was known as Cingulum Sancti Johannis, after rumors that St. John the Baptist wore a girdle of Mugwort for protection in the wilderness.
Mugwort contains a compound called thujone which can induce hallucinations and convulsions. The herb is generally safe to smoke or as drink as a tea, but extracts made with alcohol are not recommended, as they can be too concentrated and potentially dangerous.
Mugwort is used both in its fresh and dried forms. Most commonly the dried herb is used for teas and tinctures.
The variety known as California Mugwort, or Artemisia douglasiana, was used by the Chumash, Paiute, and other California Indian tribes as a ceremonial herb believed to have magical and medicinal powers. It was often burned and inhaled to promote healthy sleep, sacred dreams, and to ward of ghosts or evil spirits. A ceremonial wash made from the herb was used after ritual dances.
Native to Europe, Mugwort was introduced to North America where it spread across the northern states to the west and down along the western coast of the US. Mugwort is said to have earned its name because it was used to flavor beer before hops were common. In this sense, it was named for the vessel beer was commonly drunk from: a mug. Mugwort was dried and then added to a boiling malt liquor. Mugwort was used by the Chumash people of Southern California and is cultivated at small farms in the area.
Recipes that include Mugwort. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Mom and Sisters||Mugwort Broth|
|Eat Weeds||Mugwort & Mushroom Soup|