Wild Food: Mugwort (Artemesia vulgaris)
Another plant from our city foraging walk with Chris Hope. Earlier in the season it would have had reddish or yellow flowers. This tall and sturdy plant is a common visitor to uncultivated ground, roadsides and hedgerows in Britain.
Tender mugwort leaves can be steamed and eaten as a green, although care should be taken as some people can have a mild allergic reaction. In old herbals, a tea made from the leaves was recommended as a tonic and to help against nervous anxiety.
The plant also has a strong connection with the feminine and is an emmenagogue, which helps encourage menstrual bleeding. A particularly magical plant, mugwort was another of the sacred herbs from the Anglo-Saxon Nine Herbs Charm, where it was called the ‘oldest of plants’ (yldost wyrta).
When placed in the shoe, the herb was said to protect wayfarers on long journeys. Mugwort could also be hung in a house to avert the evil eye. Dried, mugwort can be used in ‘smudging sticks’ as alternative to sage.
[source: Chris Hope, Ipso-phyto; Leechcraft, Stephen Pollington; A Modern Herbal, M Grieve]
**DO NOT eat wild plants, seeds and berries without thoroughly identifiying them first as many are deadly poisonous.**