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Genus: Artemisia

Life > eukaryotes > Archaeoplastida > Chloroplastida > Charophyta > Streptophytina > Plantae (land plants) > Tracheophyta (vascular plants) > Euphyllophyta > Lignophyta (woody plants) > Spermatophyta (seed plants) > Angiospermae (flowering plants) > Eudicotyledons > Core Eudicots > Asterids > Euasterid II > Family: Asteraceae > Tribe: Anthemideae

A total of 388 species globally, found mainly in the northern hemisphere. In southern Africa, one species is native, one species is naturalised and five species are cultivated.

Species native to southern Africa

List from Herman et al. (2003).

Artemisia afra (Wormwood)

Wilde-als [Afrikaans]

See Shearing & van Heerden (1994: 154).

Species naturalised in southern Africa

List from Plants of southern Africa (POSA) - an online checklist (SANBI).

Artemisia vulgaris (Mugwort)

Native to Eurasia. Has become naturalised in the Eastern Cape.


Other species, cultivated in southern Africa

List from Glen (2002).

Artemisia abrotanum (Southernwood)

Native to southern Europe.


Artemisia absinthium (Absinthe, Wormwood)

Native to Europe and Asia. Grown as a garden plant, was used to flavour alcoholic drinks (vermouth, absinthe, Pernod, pastis), and also has been used medicinally for reducing fevers (febrifuge) and controlling parasitic worms (vermifuge). Found to be toxic if taken regularly or at high doses and hence is no longer used to flavour alcoholic drinks (van Wyk 2005).


Artemisia dracunculus (French tarragon)

Native to Eurasia. It is a very important cullinary herb in French cooking and is one of the four ingredients in fines herbes (the other three being parsley, chervil and chives). It is added to white wine vinegar to produce tarragon vinegar, which is used in salads, sauces, pickles and with fish. Fresh leaves are used to flavour meat, chicken and egg dishes, as well as sauces (including béarnaise, hollandaise and tartare) (van Wyk 2005).


Artemisia dracunculoides (Russian tarragon)

Native to Eurasia. Used as a cullinary herb, being a poor substitute for French tarragon the latter being claimed to have a more delicate flavour. However, it is commonly grown in herb gardens because it is evidently easier to cultivate than French tarragon: it can be grown from seed, whereas French tarragon is usually sterile and normally has to be grown from cuttings (van Wyk 2005).


Artemisia ludoviciana

Native to western USA and Canada.



  • Glen, H.F. 2002. Cultivated plants of southern Africa. Jacana, Johannesburg.

  • Shearing, D. & van Heerden, K. 1994. Karoo. South African Wild Flower Guide 6. Botanical Society of Southern Africa, Kirstenbosch.

  • Herman, P.P.J., Welman, W.G., Retief, E., Koekemoer, M. and Netnou, N. 2003. Asteraceae. In Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds), Plants of southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 14: 178-310. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria. 

  • van Wyk, B.-E. 2005. Food Plants of the World - Identification, Culinary Uses and Nutritional Value. Briza, Pretoria.


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