absinthe wormwood

(Artemisia absinthium)

Conservation Status
absinthe wormwood
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNA - Not applicable

SNA - Not applicable


not listed


Absinthe wormwood is a common, exotic, herbaceous plant. It is native to Europe, Asia, and north Africa. It has been widely cultivated both as an ornamental and as an ingredient in green, anise-flavored spirit absinthe. It was introduced and cultivated in North America. It escaped cultivation and is now widely naturalized throughout the United States and southern Canada. It is found in old fields, pastures, waste places, old homestead sites, and other disturbed sites; and on roadsides, fencerows, and streambanks. It grows under full or partial sun in moist to moderately dry, well-drained, loamy, clayey, or gravelly soil. It is considered a weed in pastures but it does not have a formal weed status in any state.

Absinthe wormwood is a 16 to 40 tall, erect, long-lived, perennial forb that rises on up to 20 or more stems from a stout, woody taproot. Like most Artemisia species, the leaves and stem are strongly aromatic when bruised.

The stems are erect or ascending, usually branched, and sometimes woody near the base. When young they are densely covered with short, silky hairs, giving them a grayish-green appearance. Older stems sometimes become nearly hairless.

Basal leaves are deciduous, up to 8 long, and on long leaf stalks. They do not have stipule-like lobes or teeth at the base. They are deeply cut into 3 or 5 primary lobes (pinnatifid). The primary lobes are again divided into secondary lobes (bipinnatifid), which may be once more lobed (3 times pinnatifid). The ultimate lobes are inversely egg-shaped, 1 16 to wide, and are rounded at the tip. When young, the upper and lower surfaces are densely covered with short, silky hairs, giving them a grayish-green appearance. The upper surface of mature leaves is sometimes nearly hairless. The margins are untoothed.

Lower stem leaves are similar, alternate, 2 to 4 long, and on shorter leaf stalks, becoming even smaller, less divided, and on shorter stalks as they ascend the stem. The uppermost leaves may be undivided and stalkless.

The inflorescence is an open, leafy, elongated, branched cluster (panicle) of at the end of the stems and branches. The panicles are 4 to 8 long or longer, 4 to 5 wide or wider, and have numerous flower heads.

The flower heads small and inconspicuous and droop downward. The whorl of bracts at the base of the flower head (involucre) is broadly egg-shaped, 1 16 to long, and to 3 16 wide. The bracts of the involucre are densely covered with silky hairs and have broad, thin, papery, transparent margins and tip. There are no ray florets. The disk has female (pistillate) florets as well as florets that have both male and female parts (perfect). On the margin of the disk are 9 to 20 pale yellow, pistillate florets. In the center are 30 to 50 pale yellow, perfect florets.

The fruit is a tiny achene.




16 to 40


Flower Color


Pale yellow


Similar Species


Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) has leaves with a green, hairless upper surface and ultimate lobes that are sharply pointed. The flower heads are smaller


Old fields, pastures, waste places, old homestead sites, disturbed sites, roadsides, fencerows, and streambanks




July to September


Pests and Diseases




Absinthe wormwood is planted as an ornamental for its attractive grayish-green foliage. It is a key ingredient in the spirit absinthe.


Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 22, 28, 29, 30.




Native to Europe, Asia, and north Africa. Introduced and naturalized in North America





  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  


Asterales (sunflowers, bellflowers, fanflowers, and allies)  


Asteraceae (sunflowers, daisies, asters, and allies)  
  Subfamily Asteroideae  
  Supertribe Asterodae  
  Tribe Anthemideae (chamomiles, yarrows, and allies)  
  Subtribe Artemisiinae  
  Genus Artemisia (wormwoods and sagebrushes)  



Artemisia absinthium var. absinthium

Artemisia absinthium var. insipida


Common Names



absinth sagewort

absinth sage-wort

absinthe wormwood


absinthe wormwood


common sagewort

common sage-wort

common wormwood

grand wormwood



wormwood sage










A dry, one-chambered, single-seeded fruit, formed from a single carpel, with the seed attached to the membranous outer layer (wall) only by the seed stalk; the wall, formed entirely from the wall of the superior ovary, does not split open at maturity, but relies on decay or predation to release the contents.



Twice pinnatifid. Cut deeply into lobes with each lobe also cut into deep lobes.



A whorl of bracts beneath or surrounding a flower or flower cluster.



A pyramidal inflorescence with a main stem and branches. Flowers on the lower, longer branches mature earlier than those on the shorter, upper ones.



Referring to a flower that has both male and female reproductive organs.



Deeply cut, more than half way to the midrib but not to the midrib, into lobes that are spaced out along the midrib; the lobes do not form separate leaflets.



Referring to a flower that has a female reproductive organ (pistil) but does not have male reproductive organs (stamens).



A small, leaf-like, scale-like, glandular, or rarely spiny appendage found at the base of a leaf stalk, usually occurring in pairs and usually dropping soon.








Traditional Absinthe is Still Illegal in the U.S.

Absinthe was banned in the United States in 1912 because it was believed to be hallucinogenic and dangerous. The reason for the concern was the psychoactive chemical compound thujone, which is contained in the plant absinthe wormwood.

According to Absinthe Original, makers of absinthe in London, England,

For those who are unfamiliar, thujone is to absinthe what caffeine is to coffee: it is what gives it its "buzz". It's the ingredient that pretty much defines absinthe as a drink, the ingredient that distinguishes it from any other alcoholic beverage ever created.

In 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau authorized the sale of absinthe that is thujone-free, meaning that the thujone level is less than 10 parts per million (ppm). Absinthe in Europe and the United Kingdom contains 35 ppm. This “American absinthe” is not sold outside the United States because no one would buy it.

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    absinthe wormwood   absinthe wormwood  
    absinthe wormwood   absinthe wormwood  


    absinthe wormwood   absinthe wormwood  

Basal Leaves

    absinthe wormwood   absinthe wormwood  
    absinthe wormwood   absinthe wormwood  

Stem Leaves

    absinthe wormwood   absinthe wormwood  
    absinthe wormwood   absinthe wormwood  



  Artemisia absinthium
Susanne Wiik
  Artemisia absinthium  

Malurt, Wormwood

  Artemisia absinthium
Matt Lavin
  Artemisia absinthium  

Introduced taprooted perennial herb 40-80 cm tall (actually to 1 m or more), common along roadsides, fields, and other moderately disturbed settings usually on the wetter end of the moisture gradient. The pendulous heads with hairy receptacles are very similar to those of Artemisia frigida.

  Artemisia absinthium

Uploaded on May 19, 2011

· Plants of future (http://www.pfaf.org)

· GRIN - Taxonomic information (http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxfam.pl?language=es)




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Other Videos
  Artemisia absinthium (Absinthe)

Uploaded on Nov 29, 2011

Michael Clanahan gives a presentation on the medicinal properties of Artemisia absinthium, commonly known as wormwood and the source of absinthe. In this talk, he discusses the botanical and chemical characteristics of the plant, as well as its known biological activities. This medicinal plant monograph presentation was recorded on November 28th, 2011 as part of Dr. Cassandra L. Quave's undergraduate course entitled "Botanical Medicine and Health" offered at Emory University.

DISCLAIMER: Content provided in this video and the YouTube TeachEthnobotany site is for educational purposes only and should not be construed to be medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not a substitute for professional medical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment, and may not be used for such purposes. The information about herbal medicines and drugs in this video and the TeachEthnobotany site is general in nature. It does not cover all possible uses, actions, precautions, side effects, or interactions of the medicines mentioned, nor is the information intended as medical advice for individual problems or for making an evaluation as to the risks and benefits of taking a particular drug or botanical/herbal medicine. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical question or condition.

  Wormwood herb: Artemisia absinthium

Uploaded on Jan 25, 2009

http://FreeHerbCourse.com Wormwood herb, Artemisia absinthium and wormwood uses. how to harvest wormwood, how to grow wormwood. Learn about wormwood in this informative video.

  'Poisonous Plants 1-2-1' Artemisia absinthium, wormwood
John Robertson

Published on Dec 31, 2013

The story of wormwood, used to flavour absinthe, in 121 seconds. For more information on the plant please visit http://www.thepoisongarden.co.uk/atoz/artemisia_absinthium.htm

Or, for a detailed look at absinthe see http://www.thepoisongarden.co.uk/atoz/absinthe.htm

  Weed of the Week #670-absinthe wormwood (Air Date 2/6/11)

Uploaded on Feb 10, 2011

No green fairies here. It's our Weed of the Week, absinthe wormwood.




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