Common names: Southernwood, Lad’s Love, Boy’s Love, Old Man’s Beard, Garderobe (clothes protector)
History/Folklore: Originating in Spain and Italy it was brought to the UK around 1550. In the US it is mainly used as an ornamental. It was believed, combined with Rue, to protect against contagious diseases. The leaves were powdered, added to treacle (molasses) and given to children to expel worms. In medieval times it was used to flavor fatty meats, probably to hide the taste of rancid fat as well as to aid in digestion. It has been recorded that the Shakers were using Southernwood medicinally as early as 1830. Southernwood was burned and the ashes were added to lard or oil and smeared on the face by young men to encourage beard growth. The leaves were strewn between clothes to deter months and other insects, hence the French name Garderobe.
Appearance: The leaves are green, feathery and aromatic with a bitter lemon scent
Parts Used: leaves
Collection: Harvest and dry in August and September. Cut stems and hang to dry.
Actions: tonic, emmenagogue, antiseptic, bitter, anthelmintic and deobstruent.
Indications: induces or hastens menstrual flow, aids in digestion, expelling of parasitic worms, to clear or open the natural ducts of the fluids and secretions of the body.
Counter indications: Avoid during pregnancy, may cause contact dermatitis.
Cultivation: Perennial to zone 5. Plant 2 feet apart in slightly acidic, well drained soil. Propagation is by root division, layering or cuttings.
Light: Full sun to partial shade
Zones : 5-9
Plant Type: Perennial, Herb, Shrub