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Artemisia ludoviciana plantsArtemisia ludoviciana
Native Wormwood

Most historical uses of this native of the western US and Mexico involve its ability to purify both physically and spiritually. The Cheyenne, Navajo, and Blackfoot Indians all used it in various rituals. For the Cheyenne, native wormwood protected from ghosts, bad dreams, and evil influences, and  they purified people, instruments, and tools with its smoke. Lakota people incorporated this magick herb into Sun Dance head pieces and bracelets and  smudged with it to keep off evil spirits. The Chippewa burned the flowers to turn away hexes or evil. Practicioners of West European streams of magick find this herb is very good for stuffing dream pillows and general smudging purposes, which makes it a great addition to Pagan gardens. Because it is so often used for purification and protection, this plant is of Jupiter. Top

Mundane Uses

The Apache cooked meats with native wormwood. Blackfoot Indians made a tea for coughs from it and put its leaves into their shoes as a foot deodorizer. The Cheyenne rubbed it on the body for immunity from sickness and took the pulverized dried herb as a snuff for headaches. The Meskwaki Indians smudged their horses with it to keep away distemper. The Mewuk washed the bodies of mourners with it after funerals as a disinfectant, orphaned Mewuk children wore it around their neck to protect them from ghosts and sickness, and Mewuk tattoo artists made their ink from the soot of this herb. Thompson Indians used it as an incense to disinfect the house, and Blackfoot covered the floors of the sweatlodge with it. The Sioux smoked it mixed with tobacco. Top

Other Names

This plant is also known as Mountain Wormwood, Prairie Sage, Silver Wormwood, White Sagewort, White Sagebrush, Western Mugwort, Dark-Leaved Mugwort, Ajenjo del País, Estafiate, Estafiate de Castilla, Louisiana Sage, Herbaceous Sage, Cudwort, Pasture Sage, and Artemisia purshiana. Despite all the sage names, this is a not a sage (salvia) and is instead related to mugwort, wormwood, and grey sage. Top

In the Garden

Native wormwood enjoys full sun and no standing water and will have a better smell and live longer where it is dry and sandy. It naturally likes prairies, dry open soil, and thin woods, and it dislikes acidic soil (such as around pine trees). It's good for soil cover (it even fixes nitrogen in the soil), for stabilizing slopes and rocky areas, and for desert climates. It provides cover for small critters, although the jury is still out as to whether deer eat it or not. Because this seed is from the wild species rather than from a named variety (which would be selected for certain traits), it has a lot of genetic variety  and growing it and collecting the seeds will cause a variety to develop that suits your specific growing situation. This is true for any plant but especially so for this one, as it is known for having many different leaf shapes and colors, stem heights, and habit depending on where it's grown. At higher elevations, this plant tends to be floppy. It flowers August to October, but the flowers are barely noticeable. The root mass is not very far below the surface and spreads horizontally, so don't be too vigorous about cultivating around this plant.  You can divide it in early spring if you want. Artemisia tridentata makes a good companion for this plant, which combines well with plants having light pink flowers. Please note: The pollen of this plant can make you sneeze if you are generally allergic to pollen. Top

How to grow White Sagewort

Artemisia ludoviciana bushesThe seeds are very tiny. Sow them on a moist planting medium and just barely tamp in with a fingertip. Keep moist (not sopping) to germinate in 2 weeks at room temperature 68F/20C. The germination on this plant tends to be low (30%), but the seeds are so tiny that sowing heavily is not necessary. When the plant gets it true leaves, transplant to full sun and a relatively dry site (no standing water). This plant can grow in grassland, open land, scrub, and forests and grows in any soil, from sand to heavy clay. It is perennial in zones 4-10 (down to -20F/-29C) and gets 4 feet/1.2 m tall and 2 feet/60 cm wide. General growing info.  Top


Artemisia ludoviciana
Native Wormwood
100 seeds $3.75

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Uses in Witchcraft & Magick:

Purification Rituals
Protection Spells
Against Nightmares
Smudging Herb
Jupiter Herb

© 2004, 2019 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction of any part without permission.