Botanical Name: Artemesia vulglaris
Brief Description and Notes: Ah, this plant is much loathed by native plant enthusiasts and landscapers wanting to keep weeds at bay. Mugwort is a very robust plant that spreads itself mostly through a rhizome system. It is hard to get rid of once it has arrived. Yet, it really has its merits despite its official classification as “invasive.” It is excellent both as a culinary and medicinal plant. For identification, get familiar with its unique strong smell. Leaf shape varies but is usually toothed/lobed and alternate. The undersides of leaves are silvery and subtly hairy. They usually grow in stands. Young shoots emerge in spring; flowering occurs in summer/fall.
Where To Look For It: Disturbed soil; forest edges; overgrown gardens and meadows, roadsides, waste areas, vineyard, nurseries, areas near water.
Ornamental Value: Usually disliked by aesthetic gardeners
Ecological Value & Roles: Natural phytoremediation; provides some food for pollinators; forage for goats; groundcover
Edibility and Other Human Use: As a culinary herb it can be added to savory stews and dumpling dough, but is also common in sweet baked goods like sweet rice cakes; I’ve enjoyed adding steamed and pureed mugwort to pancake batter. It can be dried and used for tea, used fresh in a medicinal tincture, dried and smoked or used as a “smudging” herb, or perhaps you’ve experienced it as part of moxibustion. It is often associated with lucid dreaming; less famously, it also aids in digestion, menstruation, and is anti-parasitic.