Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) Identification

Mugwort / Spring / Summer / Autumn / Edible

Mugwort is a really interesting plant that has a boundless number of historical and ritual-based uses, on top of that is a potent flavoured herb with many uses within the kitchen.

Common Names

Mugwort, Sailors Tobacco, Wild Wormwood.

Botanical Name

Artemisia vulgaris

Scientific Classification

Kingdom – Plantae

Order – Asterales

Family – Asteraceae

Genus –  Artemisia

Range and Distribution

Mugwort is native to Europe and Asia and has naturalized much of the world; it is fairly common throughout the UK.


Found growing along roads, ditches and fields. Preferring disturbed ground.

Physical Characteristics for Mugwort

Overall Mugwort is quite a pretty plant, often growing amongst it’s friends with a slender look, I often see it arching slightly in one direction, The leave are often glistening in the wind as you see the silver underside and green overside of the leaf interchanging in the light.


They are erect, grooved and tend to have a red/purple tinge.


Mugwort leaves are green on top and white underneath, they have pointed tips and purplish stems. They are deeply lobed and have an aromatic scent, similar to rosemary or sage.

Mugwort leaves


The flowers are numerous, grow in clusters and are red to yellow.




Generally 10-15cm long, light brown and woody, 2-5 cm thick.

Known Hazards

This plant Contains the chemical thujone, which is said to promote lucid dreams.

The plant might be poisonous in large doses.

Skin contact can cause dermatitis in some people.

Probably unsafe for pregnant women as it may stimulate the uterus to contract and induce abortion.

What Could Mugwort be Confused with?

Wormwood but wormwood has silvery leaves top and bottom and has much more showy flowers.

Edible Uses

The leaves and shoots are edible raw or cooked, they are very aromatic and slightly bitter.

The flavour goes well with fatty meat and oily fish.

Leaves, flowers and shoots can be used to make a simple tea just by steeping them in hot water.

It can also be dried and smoked and is said to improve appetite.

It was used to flavour beers before hops were commonly available.


More on the medicinal uses

More on the ritualistic uses

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