Absinthium ponticum (L.) Garsault
Absinthium tenuifolium Gaterau
Artemisia altaica Desf.
Artemisia balsamita Willd.
Artemisia grandiflora Fisch. ex Herder
Artemisia pallida Salisb.
Artemisia pontica Burm.f.
Artemisia pseudopontica Schur
Artemisia tenuifolia Moench
Common Name: African Wormwood
Simon Langison with a young plant in his garden. The leaves are used to ease coughing.
Photograph by: Scamperdale
African wormwood is a strongly aromatic, clump-forming, perennial plant with stems that are woody at the base and can persist. It can grow from 30cm to 2 metres tall[
The plant is a widely used traditional medicine in Africa.
Africa - S. Africa north to Angola in the west, to Ethiopia in the east.
Damp slopes, along streamsides and forest margins at elevations of 20 - 2,440 metres[
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A plant of drier areas in the subtropics and tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 3,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 - 30°c, but can tolerate 12 - 35°c[
]. It prefers growing in areas with a distinct dry season and a mean annual rainfall in the range 550 - 750mm, but tolerates 400 - 900mm[
Requires a position in full sun in a well-drained, fertile, light to medium soil[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 6, tolerating 5 - 7[
The plant has a strong, sticky sweet smell that it exudes when touched or cut[
Heavy pruning in the dormant season encourages plenty of new lush growth[
A fast-growing plant, established shrubs are very tough and will slowly spread to form thicker clumps[
African wormwood is a very bitter tasting herb that is one of the oldest and best known medicinal plants of S. Africa, and is still used effectively there today by people of all cultures[
The leaves and young flowering stems are anthelmintic, stimulant, stomachic and tonic[
]. They are used to treat a wide range of ailments from coughs, colds, fever, loss of appetite, colic, headache, earache, intestinal worms to malaria[
The herb is taken in many different ways, one of the most common practices is to insert fresh leaves into the nostrils to clear blocked nasal passages[
]. The roots, stems and leaves are also taken as enemas, poultices, infusions, body washes, lotions, smoked, snuffed or drunk as a tea[
Leaves are placed in socks to combat sweaty feet[
The aroma of the plant repels insects and is used in natural insecticidal sprays and as a moth repellent[
Cuttings normally root easily[
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