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Artemisia abrotanum L.


Modern name

Artemisia abrotanum L.

A soft-wooded, semi-shrubby, fragrant plant about 3 ft high; stems erect, densely furnished with foliage, and covered at first with a grey down. Leaves downy, the terminal half doubly or trebly pinnate, the final divisions scarcely thicker than a thread; the entire leaf is from 1 to 2 in. long, 34 to 112 in. wide, and dull green. Flower-heads dull yellow, 16 in. across, nodding; produced during September and October in a tall, slender panicle 12 to 18 in. high, 112 to 212 in. through, terminating each shoot.

Native of S. Europe; cultivated in England since the sixteenth century. The flowers have little beauty, but the plant has always been a favourite in gardens, especially cottage gardens, for the sweet aromatic odour of its finely divided leaves. Village children were very fond of taking a sprig to school, and in the north of England the plant is often called “lad’s love”. It thrives in any soil, but likes a sunny, well-drained spot. Increased by cuttings taken any time during the summer, and placed either in gentle heat, or under a bell-glass in some sheltered corner. It flowers infrequently in most parts of Britain, and is valued solely for its fragrant sprigs.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

The statement that this species is ‘a native of S. Europe’ requires qualification. It has been cultivated for so many centuries that the origin of the garden race can no longer be ascertained. But the wild A. procera (page 328) really differs from A. abrotanum only in its rather more finely cut foliage. It is the wild form of the garden southernwood and is now considered to be synonymous with it.



Other species in the genus