Artemisia Abrotanum ‘Cola’ – Cola Herb – Southernwood
To prevent from spreading and becoming invasive it should be grown in a sunken container, with adequate drainage holes. Lift and divide each year in spring, replanting the younger, vigorous sections of the plant in fresh compost.
There are two main cultivated strains of southernwood, both of which have a strong fragrance, which many people find disagreeable even in mediocre amounts. The traditional type vaguely reminds of lemon, and the more recently bred type (
camphor southernwood) has an even more intense and dominant smell. A third type with particularly strong odour is sometimes marketed as
coca-cola herb. The differences in fragrance between these three types are as strong as their names would imply.
Other Common Names: Southern wormwood, lad’s love, old man, slovenwood, tangerine southernwood, Eberreis (German), aurone (French), abrótano macho (Spanish), åbrodd (Swedish).
2017 from small plant
Diseases and Problems:
When used in a potpourri or sachet, ancient cultural myth implies that southernwood’s aroma will summon one’s beloved.
The leaves can be eaten in salads and as an aromatic plant. It is important just to use the young shoots as the older leaves are quite bitter. In the kitchen the shoots can be used fresh or dried in a variety of ways to flavour sauces, salads, cakes, desserts and roast meats. They also add freshness and zest to herb teas and chilled drinks.
Dried leaves may be made into a sachet and placed among the clothes, in order to discourage moths. Both wormwood and southernwood contain essential oil with powerful insect repellent properties. In the past, it was not uncommon to put the leaves in closets and cupboards to keep moths away.
Southernwood was used traditionally for cramps, urinary disorders, menstrual pain, and cough as well as an antidote against snake bites or other poisonous animals. The herb was also used as a remedy against the plague and intestinal worms.
In the past, the plant was used as folk medicine to treat various skin diseases and was thought to promote beard and hair growth.
It was often placed in pillows to counteract insomnia.
One of its traditional uses was to soak the leaves in warm water often combined with nettle, rosemary or sage and then rub the extract into the skin and scalp to prevent infection.
For centuries the herb was regarded to have magical powers and was used as a protection to ward of evil. In many Catholic churches, the herb is still used as incense.
Southernwood is a bitter herb that is believed to have many medicinal properties. It is thought to strengthen the digestive system by increasing the production of the digestive juices.
Many herbalists were known to use it, and some still do, as an internal remedy in tea form to treat loss of appetite and indigestion (dyspepsia) associated with inadequate bile secretion.
It has also been used for diarrhea, urinary tract infections and for bronchitis and other upper respiratory infections.
The herb may be used as a sedative in nervous gastrointestinal disorders and it may be used in the same way as other Artemisia species to regulate irregular menstruation.
Externally, southernwood can be used in the form of a decoction or compress for chilblains, swellings, abrasions and to stop bleeding and promote healing.
The herb is thought to increase blood flow to the skin and to have an anti-inflammatory and disinfectant effect mainly against fungal diseases.
The fresh or dried leaves can be used in spice mixtures and traditionally it was used as a flavor ingredient in the same way as wormwood in herbal vinegar and some liqueurs.
In some literature, it is stated that the normal dosage of southernwood is around 4 grams of the dried herb or the equivalent in the form of an extract, which may be used up to three times daily.
Possible Side Effects and Interactions of Southernwood
Southerwood, just as wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) and mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), has a reputation of causing miscarriages and have a stimulating effect on the uterus so it should not be used during pregnancy. Children under 12 should avoid internal consumption of the plant.
In some instances, plants belonging to the genus Artemisia are known to cause both skin rashes and allergic reactions so caution is advised when handling southernwood.
Harvesting: The leaves should be collected before the flowering and dried in a shade to prevent the loss of color. The dried leaves should be stored in sealed glass containers and kept away from light.
Flowering Time: July to September
Position: Full sun,Glasshouse / Conservatory,Partial shade
Hardiness: fully hardy
Winter Care: Plants in regions that are warm or temperate enough to sustain Artemisia outdoors may still want to do a little winter preparation. The plants will benefit from 2 to 3 inches of organic mulch, such as fine bark chips, over the root zone. This will act like a blanket and protect the roots from any sudden or sustained freezes. If a really bad freeze is coming, use a blanket, burlap, bubble wrap or any other cover to make a cocoon over the plant. This is a cheap and effective way of winterizing Artemisia or any sensitive plant. Don’t forget to remove it when the danger has passed. Make sure to water if the winter is dry. Artemisia are very drought tolerant but need occasional moisture. Evergreen Artemisia in winter especially need some moisture, as their leaves will lose moisture from the foliage. If your plant has died back due to winter and does not appear to be coming back, it may not be too late. Some Artemisia in winter naturally lose their leaves and new foliage may be forming. Additionally, if the root ball was not killed, you can probably get the plant to come back. Use a clean, sharp pruner and gently scrape the woody stems and trunk. If you see green under the bark, the plant is still alive and there is a chance. Remove any plant material that is brown after scraping. This may mean cutting the plant back to the main stem, but there is still a chance all is not lost. Make sure the plant is in a location that is well draining and receives some moisture during spring as it battles its way back. Fertilize with a gentle formula, such as a diluted mixture of fish fertilizer and water. Feed the plant once per month for two months. Gradually, you should see the plant come back to itself if the roots survived and produce new foliage.