Amazing Artemisias workshop with Susun Weed
By Karen Joy
Of course, another beautiful day, another beautiful class.
It was fun to go to one where I did not know what to expect! Of course I knew the plant group we would be talking about, but I wondered.... how could we spend a whole day on them?!! In the end I realized through the day we only scratched the surface of what there was to learn about them.
The main artemisias I remember are A. vulgaris (Cronewort), A. absinthum (Wormwood), and A. annua (Sweet Annie).
We also actually touched on one that is not an artemisia but looks similar -- Ambrosia artemisifolia (Ragweed).
And oh yes, there are the artemisias of the western states, the sagebrushes, NOT sage of the mint family plants though!
The first three I mentioned a couple paragraphs above all grew there at the wise woman center. So we got to visit with them, touch them, smell and taste.
After lunch as we sat down on the deck Susun brought out some goodies -- tincture of Wormwood, and vinegars of Cronewort and Tarragon (A. ranunculis). We got to sample. i love the hands-on of these classes!
Cronewort too often is called Mugwort. The new name helps us accept the old wisdom she carries. Look under her leaves and see her silvery hair (Twice this weekend I got blessed with the presence of wise silver-haired women, the previous class being about menopause). We can put her up in vinegar when only inches high, roots and all. She gets more bitter as she ages, the alkaloid being more present. We can collect her, cut from the ground I believe, when she is in flower. It is then we can tincture her for help rebuilding our HCl acid in our stomach, or burn her for a beautiful smell and vivid dreaming. Cronewort thrives in the city and tough grounds. I found this out two years ago as I brought back a few small plants from the Wise Woman Center to bless my gardens with. I treasured them and babied them and they died. I tried again a few months later, planting them where nothing else would grow and let them be. Today they thrive. She could be called invasive. I call her abundant and fertile ... so far!
Wormwood sounds powerful. From listening to Susun I would opt for drugs for worms before using this tincture. It contains the poisons we often look for in our herbal remedies -- alkaloids and essential oils and .. was it glycosides or resins? In high enough doses it can detrimentally effect our mind as we can see with VanGogh, an absinthe drinker I hear. Susun had several giarrdia(sp) stories to tell, so I am thinking this might be very useful when possibly faced with this amoeba (?). For now, In my garden I am enjoying seeing her silver leaves blow in the wind. Some (or one?) artemisias can be grown by seed, like Sweet Annie, some spread by root I think, like cronewort so can be cut to ground. Wormwood and Tarragon grow from old wood so should NOT be cut down!
Sweet Annie, well, I began growing her this year and am IN LOVE with her smell, so I was curious to hear about her. Good smelling wreaths is what I learned, and abundant seed. She is high in the essential oils of course!
The Tarragon vinegar was delicious! I think it doesn't grow from seed so if we buy seed it is something else. It is hard to find it sold I hear so now I am on a mission. Anyone out there growing it? Or southernwood?
Thanks to the class I am more in love with the Artemisias than before. I am more curious to learn and to grow her in her many forms nearby.
Please anyone share your experiences of these plants -- growing, harvesting, preparing, using, etc. I want to hear!!
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