The sordid history of wormwood matches it’s many names: “mugwort”, “felon’s herb”, “sailor’s tobacco”, and, creepily, “naughty man.” Traditional uses include adding wormwood to beer and alcohol for interesting flavoring and as an attractive perennial with anti-insect properties.
This is a rooted seedling 5” in height. Sold in a 2.5” biodegradable container that are ready for spring or summer planting
How to Grow It
Wormwood grows well in rich, well drained soil; wormwood does not respond well to overly wet roots. Wormwood thrives in full sun and is cold hardy in zones 4 through 8.
How to Use It
We receive a lot of questions how or why someone would grow wormwood. Realize that wormwood is an herb collector’s herb. Even if you forget the entire Part of the mystique of growing it was that it was historically demonized for it’s hallucinogenic properties in the creation of absinthe. The hallucinogenic portion of wormwood is due to thujone (a chemical found in wormwood). Irrational fears over absinthe and wormwood caused the spirit to be banned in the United States. In reality, very little evidence exists of hallucinations actually caused by absinthe and you’d likely die of alcohol before you had enough thujone in your system to cause hallucinations. So why grow it? Lots of reason:
It’s ornamental. Unlike other plants that have a silver hue (e.g. dusty miller), wormwood is a perennial in most of the United States.
It is of interest to medical researchers. Wormwood has been studied by scientists for a variety of medical purposes (from antimalarial treatment to cancer). Note that we say studied here. Wormwood is clearly of interest to researchers, but no common thread exists for wormwood as an effective treatment of anything.
It has a specific smell and flavor. Offbeat uses of wormwood including using it as a flavoring for beer or as plant that keeps away certain insects.
It’s a conversation starter. Even after the abundance of scientific research on wormwood, it remains a interesting topic of conversation for herbalist or home gardeners alike.
Mentions of Wormwood as a remedy for, well, anything began in Roman times and is mentioned throughout the Bible. In the middle ages, wormwood was supposedly used to cure those infected with tapeworm.
These days, wormwood’s notoriety comes from the introduction of the French spirit absinthe. Absinthe, a dark green color, was traditionally served poured over a sugar cube on top of a slotted spoon and was called the “green fairy” (since that’s what you would supposedly see after drinking it). The hallucinogenic effects of absinthe were attributed to the thujone that naturally occurs in wormwood.
Much of the yellow journalism surrounding wormwood resulted in the plant being banned in several countries and states.