Asteraceae, the daisy, sunflower or composite family.
Plant: Tall, branching, with sharply pointed, lobed leaves and long, terminal clusters of minute, greenish or whitish flower heads. Perennial.
Flowers: Tiny heads, about 1/8", without apparent petals, greenish or whitish, eventually turning to brown, in loose, elongated, terminal clusters (panicles). Slender racemes composing the cluster frequently nodding at tips.
Leaves: Alternate, deeply lobed and cut, lobes sharply pointed. Dark green above, whitish below due to dense, downy hairs, to 4". The small leaves in flower clusters are lanceolate.
Fruit: Small, dry, seed-like.
Habitat: Roadsides, fields, waste areas.
The foliage of this species is highly aromatic, in common with other members
of the genus Artemesia.
Introduced from Europe, the plant is often a weed in north America.
In the old world, mugwort has a long history as a medicinal plant, and contains
biologically active and somewhat toxic compounds, including thujone.
Among other uses, the plant was used to help turn the fetus in breach
deliveries. It has also been used as an abortifacient. There seems to be
a real effect on the uterus, and pregnant women should not use the plant
medicinally. The plant has many other uses in traditional herbal medicine.
In some cultures smoking, or drinking infusions of the plant, or sleeping
on a pillow containing it is believed to induce vivid dreams.
The leaves have also been used as a bitter culinary herb.
Where to find it:
There are patches of mugwort on the north side of the park near the lodge,
and further south and west near the boundary trail.