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Did You Know?

A few facts:

  • Difficult to control
  • Aromatic and medicinal 
  • Produces flowers that lack petals

How to get rid of mugwort:

  • Treat with herbicides
  • Use combined approach of herbicides and mechanical removal

Information by Rakesh Chandran, Ph.D., WVU Extension Weed Science Specialist

Mugwort – A weed of dual nature

Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) is a perfect example of a plant whose virtues are not as well understood as the menace it creates in a garden. It is native to Eurasia but has been naturalized in North America since the early settlers. 

Its perennial and spreading growth habit facilitated by extensive rhizomes make it a troublesome pest in gardens, and it is considered to be one of the worst weeds by the American nursery industry.  Capable of tolerating low mowing heights, it can invade lawns as well as landscapes, roadsides and agronomic settings. As a beneficial plant, its aromatic leaves, stems and underground parts are considered to possess many medicinal attributes.

Mugwort Identification

One of the most striking characteristics of mugwort is the silvery appearance of its lower leaf surface from tiny, densely-packed, wooly hairs. The leaves are arranged alternately on the stem and shallowly lobed closer to the ground but are deeply dissected and linear higher up with each lobe tapered to a point. They bloom from July to October with relatively inconspicuous flowers compared to many of its relatives in the chrysanthemum family. Flowers are borne in clusters and are yellowish green in color, lacking petals. Mugwort seeds are not considered to be viable.

The volatile chemicals present in mugwort have a wide range of attributes ranging from their ability to repel certain insects to adversely affect the growth of other plants (allelopathy). It is reputed for its several medicinal properties and uses, such as a diuretic, to induce perspiration and blood flow, and as an anthelmintic. It is also used historically to flavor drinks, such as beer, along with extracts from ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea).  

Controls for Mugwort

Mechanical removal is often time-consuming and rather ineffective; studies have shown that rhizomes regenerated even after two years of routine mowing. Integrating the application of a systemic herbicide along with mechanical methods is known to be effective. 

Directed spray of a non-selective herbicide, such as glyphosate, or an application of the same with a handheld weed wiper is effective in landscapes.  Use a 3% to 4% solution of a concentrated glyphosate formulation (Roundup concentrate) or a 33% solution of the same when applied using a weed wiper. 

Selective herbicides containing the active ingredients clopyralid (Lontrel) or triclopyr (Turflon) applied separately or in combination (Confront) can provide effective control of this weed in lawns or other turfgrasses. If the herbicide clopyralid is used, do not use plant material for composting since the herbicide residues can linger for long periods. Use of a heavy-duty landscape fabric or other impenetrable mulch can be used to contain mugwort in landscapes. 

When left unattended, mugwort can be a tough weed in the garden to battle.  

Author: Rakesh Chandran, WVU Extension Weed Science Specialist 
Last Reviewed: June 2019 

Recommendations for the use of agricultural chemicals are included as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services does not imply endorsement by West Virginia University Extension nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned. Individuals who use agricultural chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage regulations and examine a current product label before applying any chemical. For assistance, contact your county Cooperative Extension agent.