Artemisia  'Silver Mound'

(ar-te-mee' see-ah)

Common name: Wormwood

Family: Asteraceae, Aster

Height x width: 6-48" x 12-48" depending on species

Growth rate: fast

Foliage: all except lactiflora have small, alternate; often finely divided and aromatic when bruised

Flowers: dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants) except for lactiflora, white or yellow in early to mid summer

Hardiness: 3-5 to 8-9 varying with species

Soil: most except wet, often tolerate poor; lactiflora prefers moist

Light: sun

Pests and Problems: powdery mildew or rust on some species (seldom serious or even seen)

Landscape habit, uses: colored foliage contrasts in borders, rock gardens for clump species, cut and dried foliage, herb gardens, slopes for invasive species; stellerana tolerates salty air and water

Other interest: common name from use by Romans of this plant to treat intestinal worms, santonin from some Asiatic species still used for this purpose; Mugwort common name from use of this species in mugs to flavor beer prior to hops; various species used for many ailments include liver and kidney problems prior to 19th century; absinthium originally used to prepare absinthe--a dry bitter beverage ingredient (now produced artificially without this species)-- which was found in 19th century to contain thujone causing absinthism-- delirium and eventually death; some use of fragrance fingerprinting to differentiate cultivars by their chemical fragrance properties

Other culture: some species are invasive by roots so proper placement is crucial; some species fall over and open in centers with hot, humid weather as in the South (ludoviciana doesn't)

Propagation: division, stem or root cuttings, seeds


The following are the most common perennial species in the U.S., cold hardy to at least zone 6, and do not include ones grown primarily for herbs (dracunculus, Tarragon; vulgaris, Mugwort) or native vegetation (tridentata, now Seriphidium--sagebrush). Mugwort is an aggressive to invasive spreader, especially the variegated A. vulgaris 'Oriental Limelight'.  
Species zones height woody foliage habit native
*abrotanum 5-8 3-4' yes gray, very fragrant upright So. Europe
*absinthium 3-9 2-3' yes silvery-gray, fragrant upright Europe
alba 6-9 2-3' yes gray, lobed, fragrant upright Europe, N. Africa
armeniaca 5-9 2-3' no gray, wooly below upright Asia Minor
douglasiana 3-9 6-9' no green, gray below upright W. U.S.
filifolia 3-9 2-3' yes silvery upright Mexico
frigida 4-9 8-12" yes silver upright N. temperate
*lactiflora 3-8 4-6' no green upright China, India
*ludoviciana 4-9 2-4' no silvery gray beneath invasive N. America
pontica 4-9 1-2' yes light green, fragrant self sows Europe
pycnocephala 3-9 1-2' yes gray silky upright W. U.S.
schmidtiana 3-8 1-2' yes silver, finely cut mounded Japan
stelleriana 4-8 1-2' yes silver, lobed, divided spreads E. U.S., Asia


The following are the most often found in U.S. commerce, with those marked * the most popular.
Cultivar species foliage other
'Guizho' lactiflora very dark green creamy flowers, from Blooms
'Huntington' x absinthium silver, deeply cut zones 5-7, 2-4', heat-tolerant
*'Lambrook Silver' absinthium grayish, finely cut 2-3' tall, tends to flop
*'Nana' schmidtiana silver, finely cut most popular in genus
*'Powis Castle' hybrid silver, finely cut zones 6-8, 2' tall
'Silver Bouquet' stelleriana silver low mat-forming, from UBC
*'Silver Brocade' stelleriana grayish-silver low mat-forming, from UBC
'Silver Frost' ludoviciana silver, finely cut  
*'Silver King' ludoviciana silver, cut  
*'Silver Mound': 'Nana' schmidtiana    
*'Silver Queen' ludoviciana silver, cut shorter than 'Silver King'
*'Valerie Finnis' ludoviciana silver, entire 1-2' tall, non-invasive

(cultivar photos, except 'Nana', courtesy Missouri botanical gardens plantfinder)

©Authored by Dr. Leonard Perry, Professor, University of Vermont as part of PSS123 course.

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