Artemisia princeps, also called Korean wormwood, Korean mugwort, and Japanese mugwort in English, is an Asian plant species in the sunflower family, native to China, Japan, and Korea. It is a perennial, very vigorous plant that grows to 1.2 meters. This species spreads rapidly by means of underground stolons and can become invasive. It bears small, buff-colored flowers from July to November which are hermaphroditic, and pollinated by wind. The leaves are feather shaped, scalloped and light green, with white dense fuzz on the underside.
In Japan it is called yomogi (蓬) and the leaves are sometimes blanched and added to soups or rice. Its leaves, along with those of hahakogusa, are a fundamental ingredient in kusa mochi (literally "grass rice cake"), a Japanese confectionery, to which it imparts its fresh, springlike fragrance and vivid green coloring.
The young leaves can be lightly boiled before being pounded and added to glutinous rice dumplings known as mochi to which they give a pleasant colour, aroma and flavour. Mugwort mochi can be found in many North American health food stores.
Mugwort, referred to as ssuk (쑥) in Korean, is widely used in Korean cuisine as well as in traditional medicine (hanyak 한약 韓藥). In spring, which is the harvesting season, the young leaves of mugwort are used to prepare savory dishes such as jeon (Korean-style pancakes), ssuk kimchi, (쑥김치), ssukguk (쑥국, soup made with ssuk). Most commonly, however, fresh mugwort as well as dried leaves ground into powder are a characteristic ingredient in various types of tteok (떡, Korean rice cakes). Today, ssuk also adds flavor and color to more contemporary desserts and beverages, e.g. ice cream, breads, cakes, mugwort tea (ssukcha 쑥차) and ssuk latte (쑥라떼).
Aetang (mugwort dumpling soup)
Ssuk-beomuri (mugwort rice cakes)
Ssuktteok (mugwort rice cakes)
Ssukcha (mugwort tea)
Artemisia princeps is one of the species of mugwort used as moxa in Moxibustion, a traditional medical practice of China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Tibet, Nepal and Vietnam. An evaluation of the efficacy of the smoke and water extracts of the herb found that both preparations inhibited the growth of a specific line of breast cancer cells in vitro. Phenolics from A. princeps (caffeoylquinic acids (CQA) such as 3-CQA (chlorogenic acid), 4-CQA, 5-CQA (neochlorogenic acid), 1,5-diCQA, 3,4-diCQA, 3,5-diCQA and 4,5-diCQA) alleviated the oxidative stress and enhanced the viability of certain neuronal cells in vitro.
In China it is known as huanghua ai (黄花艾, literally yellow-flower mugwort).
In Korea, it is called ssuk (쑥) or tarae ssuk (타래쑥) which is deeply related to Dangun Sinhwa (단군신화), legend of Gojoseon, the first Korean kingdom. To ancient people in Korea, ssuk was one of the food that was believed to have medicinal or religious value. In the foundation myth of Gojoseon in 2333 BCE, eating nothing but 20 cloves of garlic and a bundle of ssuk for 100 days let a bear be transformed into a woman.
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