Sep 182008

These are the three most common varieties of Artemisia found in the Canyon. They’re not the only ones though, there’s at least three more I don’t have pictures of. Everytime I walk out the cabin door into waist tall swaths of this multi-pupose and deeply healing plant, I feel incredibly rich, and very blessed.

This top one is by far the most prevalent, covering acres and acres of disturbed ground in the old riverbed. It’s perhaps the most aromatic of all of the spp. as well. Intensely bitter, with a strong but unrefined fragrance. It flowers the earliest and also grows largest, sometimes reaching nigh on six feet tall and four feet around – practically a shrub! This is the spp I usually use to make oil with, I find that it makes a nice strong infused oil that’s wonderful for achy or injured muscles.


This red flowered one is my favorite to use for liver and digestive ailments. It’s still strongly bitter but has a more refined, pleasing taste that works well in tincture and tea.


This delicate silvery darling is less common than the other two and has the peculiar attribute of incredibly sweet tasting flowers. No, really, they taste a lot like stevia. Barely a hint of bitterness in the flowers and even the leaves are pretty mild tasting. It’s not as strong of a medicine as the other Artemisias, but better for those with delicate constitutions or who can’t tolerate much bitterness.


For those of you who don’t regularly read the Animá blog, you’ll likely want to check out this great article by Wolf, entitled Care-Takers: Invasive Species, Natives, Healing & Wholeness

  5 Responses to “Bountiful Bitters: 3 Variations on Mugwort”

  1. I love your blog! Do you have a favorite bitters recipe that you can share with us? I’ve tried making bitters a few times (once from a Gladstar recipe, once just fooling around) and I seem to be very heavy-handed. All my tinctures, bitters especially, taste *awful!* I’d love to have a reliable bitters recipe.

    Thanks & green blessings,


  2. Hi Katja, I do have a bitters recipe in my bitters post that I did for last month’s blogparty, just search for bitters in the searchbox over there and you should be able to find it. There’s a also a guest post by another herbalist from the same day that has lots of interesting bitters info.

  3. Mmmm, these photos stopped the breath in my body as I took in their beauty. I wasn’t expecting that moment at all as I took a quick break in my busy day to see what you’ve been up to here. Mugwort is so my lady 🙂

  4. Mugwort spoke to me clearly once when I was on a 9 day trip on the Green River -destination, lake powell. I broke my leg & ankle on the second evening out. I was determined to complete the trip and wrapped the leg in an ace bandage. It swelled up, turned beautiful deep shades of red/puple/blue. It was painful but I found a lovely shaped stick that had many years ago been smoothly witteled on the ends by a beaver. I used it as a cruch. The beauty of the canyon, the river, the awesomeness of the terraine so inspired me that the hinderance of my leg was minor. About 6 or 7 nights into the trip, we camped at the mouth of a dry wash. After I set up my tent and dinner was being fixed (not my night to participate) I felt that something existed up this dry wash that would help me. I hobbled up and saw a small ephedra … I thought..? maybe…no … not this one. I went further and there, in the dry ground was a small little plant that ‘shouted out to me’. It looked like a small parched version of mugwort. I pinched the familiar signature leaf and the smell confirmed that this indeed must be a hardy version of mugwort. I gathered only a few leaves from this little plant, as the plant gave me permission, then I hobbled up further, found another and went through the same process untill I had found enough leaves to make a poltice. I went back and got out a small jar of witch hazel that my intuition told me to bring and in a bowl shaped rock by the river, prepared a poltice to put on my swollen ankle and leg (lower fibula was broken inside) That night I was pain free and in the morning when I finished packing up my stuff into the river bag, I unwrapped the binding and the swelling was gone as was all the discoloration. WOW. I hobbled up and gathered some more and made a new poltice thus resulting in my leg and ankle being comfortable…no swelling and no discoloration for over 24 hours. I hobbled around the next few campsites looking for more but never found any.
    We now live in a very dry part of the desert ….not far from Death Valley. Aside from the creosote which has provided me with a wonderful tincture, I have not found too much else. I’m love your website, want to start a garden on the north side of my house for mugwort, nettles and other plants that wouldn’t otherwise grow here. Do you have any suggestions?

  5. Hi Julie, great Mugwort experience, it’s amazing how much the plants have to teach us!

    It’s hard for me to recommend plants for you without knowing your soil type, how you’re going to water them and if you’re wanting to work with mostly native plants.

    Thanks for reading,
    Kiva Rose

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>