Artemisia dracunculus L.


Asteraceae (Sunflower Family)




Dragon Sagewort 






                                                  May Photo


Plant Characteristics:  Almost odorless or tarragon scented perennial with horizontal rhizome; stem erect, 5-15 dm. tall, glabrous to villous-puberulent, brown; lvs. linear or nearly so, 3-8 cm. long, entire or sometimes with few linear lobes, bright green, glabrous, the lower mostly deciduous; panicle 15-45 cm. with elongate leafy ascending branches; heads many, soon spreading or nodding; invol. subglobose, 2-3 mm. broad; phyllaries 7-12, widely ovate, glabrous, light brown, scarious-margined; fls. ca. 20-30, the outer female and fertile, the inner sterile; aks. 0.5-0.8 mm., ellipsoid, glabrous, not ribbed.


Habitat:  Dry, +/- disturbed places, up to 11,000 ft.; Coastal Sage Scrub to Montane Coniferous F. and above; cismontane s. Calif. to cent. Calif.; Joshua Tree Wd. and above, Mojave Desert; to B.C., Wis., Tex.  Aug.-Oct.


Name:  See A. californica for notes on name Artemisia.  Latin, draconis, a dragon.  (Jaeger 85).  Both the species and common names refer to a dragon.  The reason for this is not clear to me. (my comment).


General:  Occasional in the study area.  Found mostly in the Santa Ana Heights area and on the Eastbluff bench.  Photographed specimens are from Santa Ana Heights. (my comments).      A. dracunculus is known to cooks as terragon.  (Coon 87).       Artemisia spp. were used as food, the seeds and shoots; basketry, the stems; medicine, the bark, leaves and stems; arrow shafts, the shoots; granary construction, the branches; tattooing (green color), the leaves.  (Heizer & Elsasser 242).     When dried, this plant has a pleasant persistent fragrance.  (Murphy 51).      Artemisia species have been known to cause dermatitis.  (Fuller 370).       Nearly all the all the species are intensely bitter and strongly aromatic, making them useful either to stimulate sweating in dry fevers or for indigestion and stomach acidity.  As the name signifies, Wormwood will help expel or at least inhibit roundworm and pinworm infections, the secret being constancy, with at least two cups of the tea a day for a period of a week or two.  The herb tarragon comes  from A. dracunculus.  (Moore, Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West 162).


Text Ref:  Abrams, Vol. IV 410; Jepson 1142; Hickman, Ed. 204; Munz, Calif. Flora 1237; Munz, Flora So. Calif 117.

Photo Ref:  May 3 83 # 13A,14A,15A; June 6 83 # 9,10; Feb 1 84 # 24A

Identity: by R. De Ruff, confirmed by F. Roberts.

First Found:  May 1983.

Computer Ref:  Plant Data 146

Have plant specimen.

Last edit 7/14/05.


                                   June Photo                                                                           February Photo