Friday, June 26, 2009

SOUTHERNWOOD / Artemisia abrotanum

A big thanks to all of you commented on my previous blog today. Gardeners are such an encouraging bunch! I think we just all love to see each other "bloom".

Several of you mentioned that you'd never heard of Southernwood. Here's a close-up picture of the plant and some tidbits of info I found on Wikipedia and a few other sites.


According to, this plant can be found in many parts of Canada and the US.

Southernwood (Artemisia abrotanum) is a flowering plant known by many names: Old Man, Boy's Love, Oldman Wormwood, Lover's Plant, Appleringie, Garderobe, Our Lord's Wood, Maid's Ruin, Garden Sagebrush, European Sage, Lad's Love, Southern Wormwood, and Lemon Plant. My plant does have a lemony scent to it, and apparently, there's a recent variety of this plant that smells a little of camphor. Needless to say, it's not a plant bothered by animals!

It forms a small bushy shrub; the grey-green leaves are small, narrow and feathery; the small flowers are yellow (although I don't remember ever seeing a flower - I have to be more observant this summer). It can easily be propagated by cuttings or by division of the roots.

It has many uses. Medicinal - it's an antiseptic; it can be used to kill intestinal worms, treat liver, spleen and stomach problems; it can be made as a poultice and placed on wounds, splinters and for use in skin conditions. You can brew it as a tea to aid in digestion; and mixed with other herbs as an aromatic, it aids in sleep disorders. An infusion of the leaves is said to work as a natural insect repellent when applied to the skin or if used as a hair rinse is said to combat dandruff. The volatile oil in the leaves helps to repel moths and other insects. The Romans believed that it increased young men's virility!

Here's some information from another site for those of you who are interested in adding this to your garden.

It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf from March to November, in flower from September to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by wind.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

Habitats: Woodland Garden; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Hedge

As I said before, I've had my plant for 25 years, long before I became interested in being a gardener (read - paid attention to actually taking care of and nurturing my plants or finding out where it likes to grow). It's been moved 5 times and simply stuck in whatever piece of ground was available. And although it's a slow grower, it's a hardy little thing and is thriving now!

I actually saw a shrub for sale for the first time recently - $29.99!!!

If you were close, I'd give you a piece to propigate. I love my plant; so I'd highly recommend Boy's Love as a wonderful addition to your flower, herb or vegetable garden.


siteseer said...

Very interesting. I wish we could all live closer and have a perennial swap lol. I'm really just learning about gardening, and trust me I have a lot to learn. Can't wait to see more of your plants.

Laura said...

Thank you for wonderful information. I am so hooked on gardening right now, it is hard to think about anything else!


RainGardener said...

I thought it looked like my Wormwood. Now I see why.
Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I'm running late with having my Grandsons for 3 days. Barely got my post in for Fertilizer Friday.

Teena in Toronto said...

Such gorgeous greenery!

PeacefulWmn9 said...

It's beautiful, and sounds very easy to grow! I'd love to find one, but I'd have to grow it in a pot. In this apartment complex, we can't plant anything in the ground. I do have a large pot of Early Girl tomatoes on the patio, and one is already getting ripe.