This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2010)
L. 1753 not Thunb. 1784
Artemisia abrotanum, the southernwood, lad's love, or southern wormwood, is a species of flowering plant in the sunflower family. It is native to Eurasia and Africa but naturalized in scattered locations in North America. Other common names include: old man, boy's love, oldman wormwood, lover's plant, appleringie, garderobe, Our Lord's wood, maid's ruin, garden sagebrush, European sage, sitherwood and lemon plant.
Southernwood has a strong camphor-like odour and was historically used as an air freshener or strewing herb. It forms a small bushy shrub, which is widely cultivated by gardeners. The grey-green leaves are small, narrow and feathery. The small flowers are yellow. It can easily be propagated by cuttings, or by division of the roots.
A yellow dye can be extracted from the branches of the plant, for use with wool. Its dried leaves are used to keep moths away from wardrobes. The volatile oil in the leaves is responsible for the strong, sharp, scent which repels moths and other insects. It was customary to lay sprays of the herb amongst clothes, or hang them in closets, and this is the origin of one of the southernwood's French names, "garderobe" ("clothes-preserver"). Judges carried posies of southernwood and rue to protect themselves from prisoners' contagious diseases, and some church-goers relied on the herb's sharp scent to keep them awake during long sermons.
The pungent, scented leaves and flowers are used in herbal teas. Young shoots were used to flavor pastries and puddings. In Italy, it is used as a culinary herb.
Currently, it has been documented that all the aerial parts of Artemisia abrotanum contain substances that can be toxic to humans, due to the presence in the essential oil of bicyclic monoterpenes and phenylpropanoids.
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- Southernwood Spice Page by G. Katzer