This year, instead of one specific herb species, the Herb of the year is an entire Genus. Artemisia is a large, diverse genus of plants with between 200 and 400 species belonging to the daisy family Asteraceae. Some of the common names for species in this genus include Mugwort (A. vulgaris), Wormwood (A.absinthum), Tarragon (A.dracunculus) and Sweet Annie (A.annua).
Most of the Artemisia are known for their strong aroma and bitter taste. This seems to discourage herbivory, making the dried herb a good deterrent for fleas , moths and other insects. Wormwood was often used in the brewing of beverages such as beer, wine, vermouth and Absinthe. Some species are notably used as a flavoring. A good example being the use of A. dracunculus (Tarragon) in French cuisine. Artemisias have also been traditionally used in herbal medicine to aid the digestive system, serve as a liver tonic and as treatment for malaria.
Artemisias tend to be hardy perennials, drought tolerant and able to grow in a variety of conditions. They also come in a wide mix of shapes and sizes, ranging from sprawling ground covers to large shrubs. Many have narrow silvery foliage, with some having broader leaves. There are even some that have dark green foliage. No matter how you look at it, Artemisia make an interesting addition to your garden with their beauty and functionality.
Throughout the year we will be blogging about some of specific species of Artemisia. There will be more information about growing tips and uses. So stay tuned and let us know if there is a specific species you want to learn more about.