Mugwort is a tall plant with green leaves, greyish green flower heads and reddish brown flowers.
The plant grows along footpaths, waste ground and riverbanks and can grow in quite large clumps.
The leaves are hairless on top but have grey or white felty hairs below.
The strong smelling flower heads can be pulled off in handfuls by children (or adults) to throw at each other.
What is Mugwort used for?
Mugwort oil contains thujone, which is toxic in large amounts or under prolonged intake. Thujone is also present in Thuja plicata (western red cedar), from which the name thujone is derived.
The downy hairs on the underside of the leaves can be scraped off and used as effective tinder.
All parts of the plant contain essential oils with all-purpose insecticidal properties (especially in the killing of insect larvae). This is best used in a weak infusion, but use on garden plants is not recommended, as it also reduces plant growth.
Mugwort has been used therapeutically to relieve sleeplessness.
How can I grow mugwort?
Mix your mugwort seeds with dampened peat moss.
Mugwort seeds require a prolonged period of cold before they germinate so place in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.
Sow the seeds in a sunny, but well drained location. They need sunlight so with a flat palm, press the seeds down into the surface of the soil. Keep soil moist until germination.
Your mugwort seeds will germinate in 28-90 days. Mugwort grows by root spreading and can spread fast, so determine where you wish the plant to grow, and prune or remove roots as needed.