Artemisia afra

Common Name: mugwort 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Native Range: Africa
Zone: 6 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: August to September
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Herb
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Fragrant
Tolerate: Rabbit, Deer, Drought, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil


Easily grown in average to moderately fertile, dry to medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates poor soils. Performs well in hot, dry weather. Excellent soil drainage is essential for growing this plant well. Does poorly in moist to wet soils where plants are susceptible to root rot. Tall plant stems tend to lodge in summer, especially if grown in fertile soils and/or in part shade. General foliage decline commonly occurs in climates with high summer rainfall and in climates with high summer humidity. Consider pinching back stems in late spring to reduce mature plant height and to prevent legginess. Not reliably winter hardy throughout the St. Louis area where it should be planted in a protected location with mulch.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Artemisia afra, commonly known as mugwort or African wormwood, is a woody-based perennial that is ornamentally grown for its attractive, lacy, finely-cut, aromatic, medium green foliage that adds interesting texture, contrast and herbal essence to gardens. It typically forms a clump of erect stems to 2-3’ tall. Green leaves are covered with whitish hairs below, creating an overall gray-green foliage appearance. Foliage is highly aromatic when bruised. Small yellow flowers at the branch tips bloom in summer have little ornamental value. This species is native to southern Africa where it is still widely used today as a folk medicine to treat a variety of ailments including colds, flu, headache, fever and malaria.

Genus is named for Artemis, Greek goddess of the moon, wild animals and hunting.


Foliage may decline and plant stems may flop in summer. Susceptible to root rot.


Ferny aromatic foliage provides excellent contrast to flowering plants in beds, borders and herb gardens. Also can be effective in rock gardens. Good selection for areas with poor dry soils. Plant along paths where foliage may be easily brushed to release the strong foliage aromas. Foliage may be dried for use in sachets or potpourris.