Botanical name: Artemisia annua
Common name: Sweet wormwood, Sweet annie
Literal name translation: blue-green artemesia
Family: Asteraceae, aster family
Part used in Chinese medicine: leaves and stems
Major Chinese medicine actions:
Clears summerheat, clear fever from deficiency,
cools blood, stops bleeding
Photo 1: Artemisia annua; 06/2008; author C. Micleu; permission Jade Institute
Artemisia annua, or as it is commonly called, sweet Annie, grows from southeast Europe to western Asia and is considered a weed in many regions. It is well known through extensive research for its anti-malarial properties and has been called the most promising treatment for malaria found in over 300 years. It has proven not only to be an inexpensive and easy to obtain treatment, but is far more effective than conventional drugs
Growing and Propagation
The plant is a vigorous, bushy annual growing 2 -9 feet tall with delicate, pretty and fragrant fern-like leaves. It is for this ornamental foliage that sweet Annie is often grown in gardens and for floral arrangements. It has very small, inconspicuous yellow-green flowers that bloom from August to September and is easy to grow in almost any soil, though prefers sandy, loamy, well drained soil, in full sun or part shade. Plants are longer lived, more fragrant and hardier when grown in poor soil.
Propagation is easy by seed sown directly into the garden in early spring. The young seedlings are frost tolerant, so seeds may be planted regardless of a late frost.
Harvesting and Preparation
Researchers have shown the arteisinin content of the Artemsia leaves to be at its maximum level in late July or August before flowering, therefore the plant should be harvested at this time. Arteisinin has been identified as the primary active constituent used in malaria treatment. The whole plant above the ground is harvested, cleaned, and may be used fresh or sun-dried. For medicinal use, the best quality Qing Hao has yellow-green stems with dark green leaves. The tender, plant has an intense fragrance, which is considered of a sign of superior quality.