Species: Artemisia afra
Common Name: Wormwood
Artemisia afra, also known as wormwood is a common species of the genus Artemisia in Africa - Artemisia afra is the only indigenous species in this genus.
The plant has rigid stems, growing to about 1.8m tall and grows in clumps. The leaves are soft, dark green and covered in whitish bristles. When you bruise the plant it exudes a sweet smell. Artemisia blossoms in late summer.
Artemisia afra is used for:
treating cough, fever, colic, headache, intestinal parasites and malaria. In addition, Artemisia afra is frequently used as a moth repellent, and in organic insecticidal sprays.
The roots, stems and leaves are used as enemas, poultices, infusions, lotions, inhaled, or as an essential oil.
African wormwood is closely related to the European wormwood (absinthe). African wormwood is one of the oldest and best known medicinal plants among traditional healers in Africa. During the devastating African influenza epidemic of 1918, Artemisia afra was also used as cure.
World- wide there is about 400 species of Artemisia, many are used medicinally. Commonly known as mugwort, it is described by Huxley et al (1992) as ‘a condiment with supposed magical properties’. Artemisia afra is the only specie indigenous to Africa – afra means from Africa. Artemisia afra is still used effectively today in South Africa by people of all cultures. Numerous ailments are treated with it, mainly coughs, colds and influenza, but also headache, earache, malaria and intestinal worms. The fresh and dry leaves and young stems are used as decoctions, infusions and tinctures. Narcotic, analgesic and antihistamine activity have been demonstrated in preliminary tests.