Concept

Artemisia absinthium

Summary
Artemisia absinthium, otherwise known as common wormwood, is a species of Artemisia native to North Africa and temperate regions of Eurasia, and widely naturalized in Canada and the northern United States. It is grown as an ornamental plant and is used as an ingredient in the spirit absinthe and some other alcoholic beverages. Wormwood's relative mugwort was traditionally used as a remedy for a variety of complaints, especially those of a gynaecological nature, and so the wormwood genus bears the name of the Greek goddess of childbirth, Artemis. The specific name derives from apsínthion, the Greek term for the plant. "Wormwood" itself is an alteration of Old English wermod, which is of obscure origin. The German cognate Wermut is the source of the term vermouth, used in French and English to describe a kind of wine traditionally flavoured with wormwood. A. absinthium is a herbaceous perennial plant with fibrous roots. The stems are straight, growing to (and rarely over ) tall, grooved, branched, and silvery-green. Leaves are spirally arranged, greenish-grey colored above, white below, covered with silky silvery-white trichomes, and bearing minute oil-producing glands. The basal leaves are up to long, bi- to tripinnate with long petioles, with the cauline leaves (those on the stem) smaller, long, less divided, and with short petioles. The uppermost leaves can be both simple and sessile (without a petiole). Flowers are pale yellow, tubular, and clustered in spherical bent-down heads (capitula), which are in turn clustered in leafy and branched panicles. Flowering occurs from early summer to early autumn; pollination is anemophilous. The fruit is a small achene. Seed dispersal occurs by gravity. A. absinthium grows naturally on uncultivated arid ground, on rocky slopes, and at the edge of footpaths and fields. Although once relatively common, it is becoming increasingly rare in Britain, where it has recently been suggested to be an archaeophyte rather than a true native. The plant can easily be cultivated in dry soil.
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