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artemisia abrotanum, L
was loaned from Greek habrotonon
leaves and young shoots
Plantae; Spermatophyta, Angiospermae - Flowering Plants; Dicotyledonae; Asteridae / Synandrae; Asterales; Compositae / Asteraceae - Composites / Daisy or Sunflower Family
Allen's Encyclop. Mat. Med. Vol I, 558; Cyclop. Drug, Path. Vol. I.
Description of the substance
The Field Southernwood is common in most parts of Europe, but rare in Britain, occurring only on sandy heaths in Norfolk and Suffolk. It is perennial, like the other species of Artemisia with a rather thick, tapering root, but uniike them, its foliage is not aromatic. The slender, grooved stems, until flowering, are prostrate; the leaves are silky when young, but nearly smooth when mature, the segments few in number, but very slender, 1/4 to 1/2 inch long, terminating in a point with their margins recurved. The flower-heads are small and numerous, in long, slender, drooping racemes, the florets yellow and are in bloom in August and September.
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Dr. John Hill says of Field Southernwood that it is of a:
'warm, fine, pleasant, aromatic taste, with a little bitterness, not enough to be disagreeable. It wants but to be more common and more known to be very highly valued . . . and one thing it is in particular, it is a composer; and always disposes the person to sleep. Opiates weaken the stomach and must not be given often where we wish for their assistance; this possesses the soothing quality without the mischief.'
This species of Artemisia has the same qualities, in a lesser degree, as the garden Southernwood, and Linnaeus recommended an infusion of it as of use in pleurisy.
There are two different cultivated strains of southernwood, both of which have a strong fragrance, which many people find unpleasant even in mediocre amounts. The traditional type vaguely reminds of lemon, and the more recently bred type (“camphor southernwood”) has an even more intense and dominant smell.
Both types are, despite their significant bitterness, well suited for culinary usage. See zedoary on the topic of bitter spices and lemon myrtle about lemon scented spices).