Redstem Wormwood: It’s No Big Dill

4 min read

Redstem Wormwood, which grows well in tropical climates, is often confused with dill because they both have light, whispy leaves.

The most obvious difference is the branch structure of the two plants. Leaves on RW are attached to a single stalk whereas Dill has a more complex branch structure. RW also grows to be very tall: it can be found growing in the wild in Singapore reaching over 1 metre in height. The Fernleaf Dill cultivar which is most often sold in Singapore nurseries, grows to about 60cm.

Redstem Wormwood is not toxic and is often consumed as a garnish (in the mistaken belief it is dill). That means it tends to be used sparingly and is not eaten in large quantities. It has medicinal properties and is used in Chinese Medicine (but not as often as its cousin Virgate Wormwood) which is another reason to consume it moderately.

Some people do experience adverse reactions to dill (allergies, skin irritation), but this is fairly rare. Note that the seeds and flowering stem of Redstem Wormwood contains essential oil. It is likely some segment of the population would therefore be sensitive to this plant but there are no recorded incidents of adverse reactions.

Redstem Wormwood Dill

Dill

Botanical Name: Anethum graveolens
Family: Apiaceae “Celery Family” “Carrot Family”
Also known as: Lao coriander

Parts Eaten: Leaves, Flowers, Seeds – used raw, dried, cooked and pickled

Growing conditions: Dill must be grown from seed. Dill does not grow well when transplanted. The soil should be around 15-20ºC for best results. Dill is a warm-season biennial herb that grows 2 to 4 feet tall. It has a two year life cycle (biennial) but is typically grown as an annual.

Toxicity: 

  • When applied to the skin, dill can sometimes cause skin irritation. Fresh dill juice can also cause the skin to become extra sensitive to the sun.
  • It’s POSSIBLY UNSAFE to use dill as a medicine if you are pregnant. Dill seed can start menstruation and that might lead to a miscarriage.
  • Dill may cause allergic reactions in people who are allergic to plants in the celery family. Some of these include asafoetida, caraway, carrots, coriander, and fennel.
  • Dill extract might lower blood sugar in people with diabetes.

Notes:

  • When used as a companion plant, dill draws in many beneficial insects as the umbrella flower heads go to seed. It makes a good companion plant for cucumbers. It is a poor companion for carrots and tomatoes.

Cultivars:

Dill has many cultivars. The more popular ones are:

  • Bouquet – most popular in cooking. Highly aromatic. Sprinkled on food and seed heads used for pickling. Grows 75-100cm tall.
  • Fernleaf – lighter flavour. Shorter therefore good for container growing. Grows 45-60cm tall.
  • Mammoth – used as an ornamental plant and also for pickling. Grows 1m+
  • Dukat – the one with the yellow flowers in umbrella formation. Light flavour. Used in salads. Grows 75-100cm tall.

References:

 

Artemisia Scoparia  art1  Redstem_wormwood_(Artemisia_scoparia)

Redstem Wormwood

Botanical Name: Artemisia scoparia
Family: Asteraceae “Sunflower family” “Daisy family”
Also known as: Zhu Mao hao ( 猪毛蒿)

Growing conditions: Redstem Wormwood is a perennial that can grow in both temperate and tropical climates. It grows wild in hot, humid tropical conditions of SEA. It may be grown from a cutting.

Parts Eaten:

  • Seedlings are harvested at 6-10cm height
  • Young leaves are cooked or dried.
  • The seed and flowering stems contain essential oil.

Essential Oils

  • A. scoparia is rich in camphor (11.0 %), 1,8-cineole (21.5 %), and beta-caryophyllene (6.8 %)

Traditional Chinese Medicine:

  • The essential oils exhibit considerable inhibitory effects against oral bacteria
  • It has an antibacterial action.
  • The young plant may be used similar to A. capillaris (website unclear due to confusion in nomenclature).

Toxicity: 

  • Some people are allergic to the pollen.
  • Although no reports of toxicity have been seen for this species, skin contact with some members of this genus can cause dermatitis or other allergic reactions in some people.
  • Given medicinal properties, it should not be consumed in large quantities.

Notes:

  • Almost all references to Artemisia scoparia on Chinese websites are actually referring to Artemisia capillaris
  • It is a relative of Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus)
  • The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and needs well-drained soil. It can grow in saline soils. This shrub dislikes shade and dry and moist soils.
  • Established plants are drought tolerant. Plants are longer lived, more hardy and more aromatic when they are grown in a poor dry soil.
  • American varieties cultivars have very red stems.

References:

 

Next: Yīn Chén: Virgate Wormwood vs Redstem Wormwood – more confusion. Why is A. capillaris so frequently misidentified as A. scopari?