Artemisia absinthium (Absinthium)

Plant Info
Also known as: Absinthe Wormwood
Genus:Artemisia
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:Europe
Status:
  • Weedy
Habitat:sun; dry fields, along roads, waste areas
Bloom season:July - September
Plant height:2 to 4 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: indistinct Cluster type: panicle Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Hundreds of short-stalked, ¼-inch, dull yellow, button-like flower heads in loosely arranged branching clusters on the upper portion of the plant. Flowers are petal-less with only dozens of tiny disk flowers in the center. Heads tend to droop down so the flowers are not always readily seen. Flower stalks and sepals are typically gray-green from dense, silky hairs.

Leaves: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf attachment: basal Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of stem leaves] Leaves are aromatic, 1 to 3 inches long and deeply lobed, the major lobes often further divided, the lobes narrow and rounded at the tip. Basal leaves are 2 or 3 times compound; basal and lower stem leaves typically wither away by flowering time. Color ranges from light green to olive green and usually looks silvery due to a dense covering of fine hairs, the leaf undersides pale to white, though may be less hairy and more green in moister soil. Stems are multiple from the base, branched, grooved, variously covered in fine hairs, and may be somewhat woody near the base.

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a small dry seed without a tuft of hairs.

Notes:

A weedy species, Absinthium was once listed as a noxious weed in some Minnesota counties, considered an agricultural pest. Well, Round-up Ready crops took care of that problem and no one seems to care much about it now. It can create dense patches but does not seem to invade high quality habitat, mostly found in degraded fields and pastures, and the dry, disturbed soils of roadsides, railroad rights-of-way, and empty lots. First recorded in the 1890s, it is widespread in the state but likely still under-reported. Similar is White Sage (Artemisia ludoviciana), which also has gray-green, aromatic foliage, but its leaves are not divided and are more pleasantly fragrant. The leaves of Common Mugwort (A. vulgaris) are less finely divided and have more wedge-shaped lobes, and the leaves of other Artemisia species have narrower, more thread-like lobes. The leaves also somewhat resemble the Ragweeds (Ambrosia spp.) but they lack the silvery color and the lower leaves persist through fruiting. The button-like yellow flowers are similar to Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), which has larger flowers in flat clusters.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken at Long Lake Regional Park, Ramsey County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Chisago, Isanti and Ramsey counties.

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