Information About California Mugwort
Common Name: Mugwort, Sagewort, Dream Plant, Moxa, Traveler’s Herb, Artemis Herb, Felon Herb, Muggons, Old Man, Sailor’s Tobacco
Latin name: Artemisia douglasiana
Habitat: A. douglasiana is found in many plant communities, from low disturbed areas up to 3100 meters elevation; from California to Nevada and north to Washington and Idaho.
Habit: Pretty felted grey foliage is aromatic. Good for an herb garden. This plant spreads by underground roots to form colonies. More compact habit than the species. Needs some summer water. Deer resistant.
American Indian uses: According to the comprehensive database there are over 55 catalogued entries for how indigenous people’s of southern United States used this plant. Costanoan and Karok tribes used the plant as an analgesic making a compress of the plant to treat pain associated with rheumatism, arthritis, and for skin wounds. This tribe also treated earaches by making a poultice of heated leaves and applying to the ear. A decoction of the plant was drunken to treat asthma, and urinary problems. The Karok Drug placed a poultice of leaves applied for rheumatism and arthritis. The Kawaissa used the plant as an abortifacient used to induce menstration. An infusion of the plant was used as a hair wash to prevent the hair from falling out, and also used to bath a mother and father after childbirth. Heavily associated with life force this plant was also prepared as an infusion to ”prevent a girl from aging prematurely.” The Miwok placed leaves in their nostrils to treat headaches. Leaves also used this way for those in intense morning, the pungent odor clearing the head. The plant was also used as Witchcraft Medicine. Leaves were rubbed on the body to keep ghosts away. The plant was worn as a necklace to prevent dreaming of the dead. Poisoned leaves were carried to avoid personal injury. Leaves rubbed on corpse handlers to ward off ghosts of the deceased. The Paiute burnt and inhaled the plant to treat grippe. They also used the branches of the plant, placed over a bed of ashes to make a bed warm for someone with a cold or fever. The Pomo and Kashaya took an infusion of leavesfor stomachache and cramps associated with diarrhea. They also used the poultice of warmed leaves on a baby’s severed umbilical cord. The Pomo used a wash of the plant to treat itching sores, to stop excessive menstruation or to ease cramps, and given to children for “pin worms.” The Tolowa used a poultice of fresh leaves used for arthritis and as a liniment. They steamed the herb for fractures. The Washo Drug made a tea of leaves as a wash for headaches. The Yuki used a tea of leaves for pains or “troubles inside” and dysentery; prepped a poultice of pounded leaves applied for rheumatism, arthritic or back pains. If wounded while out on a hunting expedition, this plant was chewed and applied to the wound. For difficulties attending childbirth the plant was used as a steam bath. Plant was also used as veternary medicine given an infusion of plant given to injured animals. The Costanoan burned branches and used as torches during night fishing, also used torched to smoke bees from nests. The Karok used the plant as an insecticide, shoots used with drying salmon to keep “salmon beetles” away. This plant was used in many ceremonies by the Kawaiisu. For example, after his first hunting kill, the boy along with his parents would eat the plant and meat. The Pomo, Kashaya smoked the dried leaves like tobacco.
Herbal uses: Chologogue, vermifuge, emmenagogue, hemostatic, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, mild narcotic, bitter narcotic. Woman’s Moon and a Dream Herb. A nervine. Used for insomnia and nervousness. Kills internal parasitic worms. Mugwort is considered feminine in nature and has been linked through out history has been used as remedy for women’s health. It is an emmenagogue; promotes suppressed menses. Useful for young women just starting menses. Believed to increase fertility. Used for moxabustion in Chinese Medicine. Used in treatment of liver disorders and as a digestive aid (digestive bitter). Drink infusion before and/or after eating to promote digestion. Promotes sweating. Which can be a benefit when intentionally sweating out an illness; a very old healing technique when one first feels the effects of an illness. Strong infusion can be used in a bath for an invigorating bath or one before Ritual or Dreaming. For more info click here.
Propagation: Seeds are collected in mid October from mature inflorescences which are gray. Seeds are dark brown at maturity. Seed Cleaning: Seeds are rubbed over screens to remove chaff. Seed Storage: Seeds are kept dry and refrigerated. Growing Area Preparation/Annual Practices for Perennial Crops Fully Controlled Greenhouse.
Sowing Method: Transplanting Germinants. 4 grams of seeds are sown per flat containing Sunshine Mix #4 Aggregate Plus (peat moss, perlite, major and minor nutrients, gypsum, and dolomitic lime). Seeds are mixed with media to sow and are lightly covered. Flats are watered in with an automatic irrigation system.Flats are misted until germination begins.
Seeds are sown on July 1st to July 15th. % Germination: 30% Establishment Phase: Seeds germinate 10 days after sowing.
Seedlings are transplanted 15 days after germination to individual containers 2″x7″ tubes (Deepot 16) containing standard potting mix of peat moss, fir bark, perlite, and sand. Transplant Survival averages 85%. Seedlings are moved to shadehouse after transplanting. It is important to keep seedlings evenly moist thorough growth. Do not allow to dry out. Length of Establishment Phase: 25 days Active Growth Phase: Growth is rapid following establishment. References: A California Flora and Supplement, Munz, P., University of California Press, Berkeley and London, 1973.
Other: In modern herbology lore mugwort is believed to protect the traveler and thus is why it is often found along road ways. This plant is still heavily associated with dreaming and the Spirit Realm, teaching us to live in balance in both the Spirit and the Physical. It is believed that this plant helps those lost in the Spirit world back into the Physical. This also means that Mugwort will help those of us who are considered “spacey” to become more “grounded” as well. For more about this please read Typher’s website.- Bocek, Barbara R. 1984 Ethnobotany of Costanoan Indians, California, Based on Collections by John P. Harrington. Eco-nomic Botany 38(2):240-255 (p. 254) Baker, Marc A. 1981 The Ethnobotany of the Yurok, Tolowa and Karok Indians of Northwest California. Humboldt State University, M.A. Thesis (p. 18) - Zigmond, Maurice L. 1981 Kawaiisu Ethnobotany. Salt Lake City. University of Utah Press (p. 12) - Barrett, S. A. and E. W. Gifford 1933 Miwok Material Culture. Bulletin of the Public Museum of the City of Milwaukee 2(4):11 (p. 167) - Train, Percy, James R. Henrichs and W. Andrew Archer 1941 Medicinal Uses of Plants by Indian Tribes of Nevada. Washington DC. U.S. Department of Agriculture (p. 39) - Fowler, Catherine S. 1989 Willards Z. Park’s Ethnographic Notes on the Northern Paiute of Western Nevada 1933-1940. Salt Lake City. University of Utah Press (p. 125)
- Goodrich, Jennie and Claudia Lawson 1980 Kashaya Pomo Plants. Los Angeles. American Indian Studies Center, University of California, Los Angeles (p. 119)
- Train, Percy, James R. Henrichs and W. Andrew Archer 1941 Medicinal Uses of Plants by Indian Tribes of Nevada. Washington DC. U.S. Department of Agriculture (p. 39) - Curtin, L. S. M. 1957 Some Plants Used by the Yuki Indians … II. Food Plants. The Masterkey 31:85-94 (p. 45)