Sweet wormwood is an annual plant, native to Eurasia and widely naturalised in North America. At Kew it can be found seasonally in the Order Beds. Other artemisias can always be seen in the Queen's Garden and at King William's Temple.
Ancient Greeks thought wormwood was a remedy for sea dragon bites. Chinese herbal medicine uses the leaves of sweet wormwood for treating fevers.
In the last 40 years the active ingredient – artemisinin or qinghaosu – has been isolated from the leaves and shown to be a potent antimalarial drug.
Resistance to many other antimalarial drugs is now widespread, so artemisinin derivatives have become extremely important in the “Roll Back Malaria” programme of the World Health Organisation. Riamet is the trade name of a combination malaria treatment. It contains artemether and another antimalarial agent called lumefantrine not related to Artemisia.
Find out more
You can see sweet wormwood seasonally in the Order Beds at Kew
You can see other perennial artemisias at Kew in the Queen's Garden and at King William's Temple
Search Kew's electronic Plant Information Centre for scientific information about Artemisia annua
External link: Roll Back Malaria programme of the World Health Organisation
External link: guidance over the safe use of herbal medicines