Mugwort class notes.

Date: Wed, 4 Oct 1995 23:52:45 -0700
From: Howie Brounstein <howieb.TELEPORT.COM>
Subject: Mugwort

I'll post some class notes about mugwort .... and perhaps spark some debate.

Definitely ethnocentric notes:

Compositae Herbaceous Artemisia sp.

Common Names: Mugwort, Sagewort, Wormwood

Identification: A composite with a light colored fuzzy pubescence that sticks out among other plants. If you compare small plants, you might confuse a fuzzy Antennaria or Oregon Sunshine, Eriophyllum, for the Artemisia, but the Artemisia will grow much taller. If you're in an area where one species of Mugwort grows, it's easy to identify Mugworts. If you're in an area like the Northwest, there are many species of Mugwort that are difficult at best to correctly identify. The leaf shapes are highly variable, and in any given stand you can find a stem that will key out to a completely wrong Artemisia. If you do try to key these plants out, look at the whole stand of plants when they are in full bloom and take the average characteristics. Do not use new growth or fall vegetative growth, as these will be atypical. You will need to use certain ecological characteristics, like growing below the high water mark. Many times a chromosome count is the only way to be sure of the exact species.

Habitat: Most Mugworts grow in riparian areas throughout the Northwest, at varied elevations. They are usually a sign of water. I have seen Mugworts in dry waterless hills in Southern California, and followed them up to a secret spring full of archeological treasures.

Associated Plants: On rivers, the usual riparian species.

Tending the Stand: If you harvest perennial Mugworts with rhizomes, no tending should be necessary.

Harvesting: Harvest aboveground parts. The oil content drops drastically when flowering, but it will still smell strongly, so use your own judgment. Harvest aboveground parts. If you are using the herb for aroma only, notice the brown, dried up leaves on the lower stem still smells fine, and can be used. If you are planning to use the Mugwort internally, you may wish to discard these.

Processing: For dreams or smudging, just bundle and hang near your usual dreaming location. The dried leaves can be hand rubbed to a nice "owl pellet" consistency for dream pillows. Tincture fresh, or dry for oil and tea.

Uses: Mugwort is used to promote lucid dreaming. It may cause nightmares or restless dreams. Some say it causes a specific type of dream, but I believe it depends on the stage of dreaming the dreamer is capable of at the time. It may require completely inundating yourself with its essence for a prolonged period. If you do use it as a smudge, remember that its smoke smells more like Marijuana than most other plants. It is inadvisable to smudge your car with it.

Mugwort smells good and has a volatile oil, making it a useful aromatic bitter for general stomach upset, flatulence, indigestion, etc.

Mugwort, the mug plant, was used for brewing beer before the use of hops. We tried a good dark stout Mugwort beer on some of our trips.

It is possible to use Mugwort for worms, but I feel it would be better to stick with the true Wormwood, Artemisia absinthium, or other effective antiparasitics.

Wormwood has been used as an emmenagogue. It is used in as a warming tonic to increase uterine circulation, with a clearing effect on many clogged uterine conditions. This makes it more than a simple emmenagogue. This plant should not be used during pregnancy.

Related Plants: Artemisia tridentata and other shrubby Artemisias are the ubiquitous Sagebrushes of the desert regions. Artemisia absinthium is Wormwood, used for worms and the illegal narcotic alcoholic beverage, Absinthe. Artemisia dracunculus is Dragon Sagewort, commonly known as the spice Tarragon. It has a a green leaf with no shine or pubescence. There is a threatened Artemisia that grows on the Deschutes River (that's in Oregon).