Mugwort - Artemisia vulgaris

Botanical Name
Artemisia vulgaris
Mugworts botanical name comes from the greek goddess Artemis, the goddess of the moon, hunt, fertility, women and the protector of the woods and animals. 
Commonly known as the daisy family.
Common Name
Mugwort, St. John’s plant, sailor’s tobacco, Felon herb,  Chrysanthemum Weed, Maiden wort.

Common mugwort was known as the Mater Herbarum, or Mother of Herbs, with a formidable reputation as a magical plant for women.

Sailers tobacco comes from the use of mugwort instead of tobacco to smoke as it was cheaper and easy to find.

One of Mugwort’s common nicknames, St. John’s Plant, comes from the belief that John the Baptist carried Mugwort with him into the wild for protection.

The name Mugwort is often attributed to its historical use in flavouring beer before the use of hops. To make the beer, fresh Mugwort was gathered when in flower, dried, decocted in malt liquor, then added to the beer.

Parts Used

The flowers: incense, fragrance, tea, flavouring herb, poultice

The leaves: dried for tea, tinctures, bitter tonics, vinegars, incense, poultice

The root: tea, decoction, tonic

Native To
Europe, Asia and northern Africa
Botanical Description
Mugwort can grow up to 3 feet high, and is covered in pinnate leaves that are green on top and silver underneath. The silver underside of the leaf indicates that mugwort is a plant of the moon, i.e. she has an affinity with women.
Mugwort is a perennial plant (keeps coming back) that blooms in late summer with clusters of tiny white, yellow or pinkish flowers.
The root is light brown and woody with an inner white flesh.
Where She Grows
Mugwort can be found almost everywhere from forest clearings to the side of roads, gardens, fields and land with damaged or dry soil.
Mugwort is found world wide due to sailers carrying the seeds across continents in their pockets. This happened so much that mugwort often grew along the paths sailers walked. It meant that if anyone got lost in the dark all they had to do was wait for the moon to illuminate the silvery underleaf and follow the trail of mugwort (or previous sailors footsteps) to civilisation. 

Season To Harvest

Leaves - late spring/early summer before she flowers. Young shoots can be harvested early spring and eaten raw or cooked.

Flowers - Late summer/autumn

Root - Autumn


Harvesting Guidelines

Although the whole aerial part of the plant is medicinal, the leaves hold the most medicine and are harvested just before the plant flowers. Once she flowers, a lot of the medicine moves into the flower and out of the leaves.



Energetically, mugwort is warming, drying, and both a relaxant and stimulant.


As a flavouring herb to meals or drinks, the flowers can also be used with the leaves as a tea but rarely as a tincture or ongoing medicinal treatment as some say they contain small amounts of toxic substances. 


Best known for her affinity to women, mugwort is a powerful emmenagogue. She can help stimulate and encourage healthy blood flow in menstrual cycles, and is often used to bring on a bleed that may be slightly late. She's also a wonderful aid in labour as she helps bring on and increase contractions, aiding in the ease and gentle speed of birth. Ancient midwives used to carry a sprig of mugwort in their bags or pockets while tending to a birth for good luck. 

Mugwort also has a sacred place with abortion. In tribal settings, when a woman decides it is not time for a new spirit to come through - whether that be from communion with the spirit, or environmental insecurity, famine, water shortage or any other reason she sees fit - the community would gather and treat the abortion as a sacred act. Mugwort was one the main herbs used to induce an abortion and support the energy of the woman. 

Taken as a tea she is also known to be mildly psychoactive, encouraging lucid dreaming and the activation of the third eye. 

As a bitter tonic mugwort can aid with digestion.

She also acts as a nervine stimulater, revitalising the nervous system while at the same time being a nervine relaxant and soothing nervousness, anxiety and tension. The medicine you get is the medicine you need. She adapts to your body. 

Both leaves and flowers are antibacterial and antifungal, and can be applied topically to relieve itching and burning.

Both are also used as incense to keep moths and insects away. 


Tea or tonic to boost energy and nervous system.


Magic & folklore 

Mugwort is known not only as the woman's herb but as the witch’s herb. She was often grown, hung or placed by their front doors by witches, healers, medicine women or midwives in order to let other folk know of their services.  

Mugwort is often called ‘the old woman, mother herb or witches herb’ and many consider it to be a manifestation of feminine ancestral wisdom. It is also used to facilitate communication with ancestors and the spirit world, being especially potent for calling on female ancestors.

As a moon plant she has a way with dreams and darkness. You can drink mugwort as a tea or tonic at bedtime or place bundles of the herb under pillows to help induce lucid dreams.


Love Em xx


Disclaimer - this is from my own research. I cannot encourage the use of medicinal plants without prior medical advice.