Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Artemisia absinthium


SPECIES: Artemisia absinthium
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Carey, Jennifer H. 1994. Artemisia absinthium. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].

ABBREVIATION : ARTABS SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : ARAB3 ARABA ARABI3 COMMON NAMES : absinth wormwood common wormwood wormwood sage TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name for absinth wormwood is Artemisia absinthium L. (Asteraceae) [2,6,7,27]. Most North American authors do not recognize varieties of absinth wormwood. However, Boivin [2] has classified plants in Canada as insipid wormwood (A. a. var. insipida Stechmann). LIFE FORM : Forb FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Artemisia absinthium
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Absinth wormwood, native to Europe, was introduced to North America in 1841 [15].  It is now naturalized across the northern United States and in Canada.  It occurs from Nova Scotia west to British Columbia; south to Oregon and Utah; and east through Colorado and Nebraska to Virginia [3,6,7,17,27]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES10  White - red - jack pine    FRES11  Spruce - fir    FRES15  Oak - hickory    FRES17  Elm - ash - cottonwood    FRES18  Maple - beech - birch    FRES19  Aspen - birch    FRES20  Douglas-fir    FRES21  Ponderosa pine    FRES22  Western white pine    FRES23  Fir - spruce    FRES25  Larch    FRES26  Lodgepole pine    FRES29  Sagebrush    FRES35  Pinyon - juniper    FRES36  Mountain grasslands    FRES37  Mountain meadows    FRES38  Plains grasslands    FRES39  Prairie STATES :      CO  CT  DE  ID  IL  IN  IA  ME  MD  MA      MI  MN  MT  NE  NH  NJ  NY  ND  OH  OR      PA  RI  SD  UT  VT  VA  WA  WI  WY  AB      BC  MB  NB  NS  ON  PE  PQ  SK BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :     1  Northern Pacific Border     2  Cascade Mountains     5  Columbia Plateau     8  Northern Rocky Mountains     9  Middle Rocky Mountains    10  Wyoming Basin    11  Southern Rocky Mountains    12  Colorado Plateau    13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont    14  Great Plains    15  Black Hills Uplift    16  Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : NO-ENTRY SAF COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Absinth wormwood primarily grows on disturbed sites within grasslands, pastures, perennial crops, and on land abandoned from cultivation [18]. In Glacier National Park, absinth wormwood was found growing with orchard grass (Dactylis glomerata) and mountain hollyhock (Iliamna rivularis).  On a disturbed site in West Glacier, Montana, absinth wormwood occurs with creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) and yellow sweetclover (Melilotus officinalis) [13]. The upstream portion of islands in the Columbia River is dominated by lupine (Lupinus spp.), arrowleaf buckwheat (Eriogonum compositum), and absinth wormwood [9]. Absinth wormwood occurs with western snowberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis) in moist ravines in Saskatchewan [18].


SPECIES: Artemisia absinthium
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Canada geese use absinth wormwood for nesting cover on Columbia River islands but prefer lupine and willow (Salix spp.) [9]. PALATABILITY : Absinth wormwood is unpalatable to fairly palatable to cattle [15,28]. Palatability is listed as poor for horses and good for sheep [28]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Absinth wormwood energy and protein values are listed as fair [28]. COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : Absinth wormwood is a medicinal herb often planted in gardens. Absinthal, a volatile oil produced from absinth wormwood flowerheads, was used in French liquors until prohibited in 1915 because of its toxic and addictive effects [8]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Absinth wormwood is considered a weed in pastureland, cropland, and rangeland in the northern Great Plains [14,15].  Although it spreads rapidly on disturbed sites, it is easily controlled by herbicides and/or vigorous competition from grasses [14].  Picloram provides the most rapid and complete control of absinth wormwood, but dicamba, 2,4-D, and glyphosate are also effective.  Application techniques are described [14,15]. Absinth wormwood, which contains the sesquiterpene lactone absinthin, can be toxic to other plants in its vicinity.  Studies of its effect on the germination of other plants are inconclusive [15].  Although absinth wormwood leaf extracts inhibited the germination of needle-and-thread grass (Stipa comata), they stimulated the germination of green needlegrass (S. viridula) [10]. Absinth wormwood taints milk when eaten by cows [14].


SPECIES: Artemisia absinthium
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Absinth wormwood is a nonnative, long-lived, fragrant, perennial herb that grows each year from a woody base.  An individual plant has 20 or more stems each growing 1.3 to 4.9 feet (0.4-1.5 m) tall.  The fruit is a cypsela without a pappus.  The well-developed root system consists of a taproot occasionally reaching 2 inches (5 cm) in diameter with shallow lateral branches extending 6 feet in all directions [18].  Absinth wormwood may be weakly rhizomatous [14,27].  The roots lack the interxylary bark of some Artemisia spp. which protects the roots from desiccation [15]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :    Hemicryptophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Absinth wormwood reproduces primarily by seed and is a prolific seed producer [15,18,24].  Although the small seeds do not have any specific morphological provision for dispersal, they are easily scattered in hay and by wind, water, and animals.  The seeds retain their viability for 3 to 4 years [15].  Viable absinth wormwood seeds have been found in the soil of undisturbed prairie grasslands in North Dakota [11]. Germination rates were measured under various pretreatment and photoperiod conditions.  Germination was best on moist soils.  It occurred over a wide range of temperatures between 41 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit (5-40 deg C) [15]. Absinth wormwood invades extreme northern environments during warm periods but may not reproduce successfully.  Absinth wormwood was present in northeastern Manitoba in 1989 but had not produced seeds when observed in late summer [20]. Maw and others [15] and Staniforth and Scott [20] did not find any evidence of vegetative reproduction by absinth wormwood.  However, Selleck and Coupland [18] suggested that absinth wormwood may regenerate from shallow lateral root branches when plowed.  Welsh and others [27] reported that absinth wormwood has a rhizomatous caudex, and Lym and others [14] stated that absinth wormwood may spread by rootstock. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Absinth wormwood grows on disturbed sites such as along fencelines and roadsides, on borrow pits and gravel piles, and on overgrazed pastures and fields recently abandoned from cultivation [15]. Absinth wormwood grows on a variety of soils from gravels to clay loams [15].  It grows on gravelly soils in Glacier National Park [13], and on a cobble-gravel substratum on the upstream portion of Columbia River islands where sand is washed away each spring during high water [8]. Absinth wormwood grows best in moist habitats.  During drought it dies out on coarse, gravelly soils but survives in ravines and on north-facing slopes [15,18].  Absinth wormwood occurs from 5,000 to 7,000 feet (1,500-2,100 m) elevation in Colorado [28]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Absinth wormwood colonizes open, disturbed sites.  Establishment is minimal where there is a closed grass stand [15].  Absinth wormwood seedlings which germinated in an ungrazed stand of needle-and-thread grass did not survive [18]. Absinthe wormwood tolerates some shade [15].  It was found growing vigorously within a tree plantation with approximately 60 percent crown cover [18]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Absinth wormwood growth begins in early spring and flowerstalks are produced by mid-July [15].  Absinth wormwood flowers July through September [3,15,28].  In North Dakota, absinth wormwood began flowering the second week of August [22].  Seeds mature in early fall.  Seedlings emerge from early spring to August whenever moisture and warmth are available.  Rosettes form by the end of the first growing season [15].


SPECIES: Artemisia absinthium
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Although top-killed by fire, absinth wormwood probably reestablishes after fire by sprouting from undamaged perennating buds [21] or regenerating from buried seed. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    Caudex, growing points in soil    Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)


SPECIES: Artemisia absinthium
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Low-severity fire readily top-kills absinth wormwood and may completely kill some plants.  Because absinth wormwood perennating buds are at or near the soil surface, they are susceptible to fire [21]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Absinth wormwood perennating buds will sprout if they survive fire. Annual early spring prescribed fires were conducted in a South Dakota prairie infested with absinth wormwood.  Dormant fine fuels ranged from 2,000 to 2,400 kilograms per hectare.  Nearly two-thirds of the absinth wormwood survived the first fire and regrew, but four consecutive annual spring fires reduced absinth wormwood by 96 percent [21]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Spring fire can reduce absinth wormwood on northern mixed prairie sites during years with adequate fuel.  However, abundant green herbaceous material can reduce fire severity during the spring and thus reduce fire damage to absinth wormwood [21].


SPECIES: Artemisia absinthium
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Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,        Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station: 6-15.  [6850] 20.  Staniforth, Richard J.; Scott, Peter A. 1991. Dynamics of weed        populations in a northern subarctic community. Canadian Journal of        Botany. 69: 814-821.  [14944] 21.  Steuter, Allen A; Plumb, Glenn. 1988. Wormwood sage controlled by spring        fires (South Dakota). Restoration & Management Notes. 6(1): 35.  [69] 22.  Stevens, O. A. 1956. Flowering dates of weeds in North Dakota. North        Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station Bimonthly Bulletin. 18(6):        209-213.  [5168] 23.  Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern        Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire        Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 7 p.  [20090] 24.  Thomas, A. G. 1991. Floristic composition and relative abundance of        weeds in annual crops of Manitoba. Canadian Journal of Plant Science.        71(3): 831-839.  [21786] 25.  U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1994. Plants        of the U.S.--alphabetical listing. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 954 p.  [23104] 26.  U.S. Department of the Interior, National Biological Survey. [n.d.]. NP        Flora [Data base]. Davis, CA: U.S. Department of the Interior, National        Biological Survey.  [23119] 27.  Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry        C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo,        UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p.  [2944] 28.  Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information        network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and        Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. 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