Yīn Chén: Virgate Wormwood vs Redstem Wormwood

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Part 1: Redstem Wormwood: It’s No Big Dill

Yīn Chén has been used on the net to refer to both Artemisia scoparia (Virgate Wormwood) and Artemisia capillaris (Redstem Wormwood) and documents often make no distinction between the two or mix them together in discussions (this page is a good example). This is mostly a problem on Chinese websites or in reference to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine).

In early documents Yīn Chén was erroneously identified as A. scoparia and the error has been copied through to most sites even when pictures of A. capillaris are used. Many sites seem to think both names apply to the same plant but are different naming systems. They aren’t.

The two species each have unique properties and adult plants look somewhat different.

  • A. scoparia (Redstem) leaf cross section is round whereas A. capillaris (Virgate) is a flat blade shape.
  • A capillaris has more branching that A. scoparia where all the leaves attach to the stalk.
  • Both are used in Chinese medicine but A. capillaris (Virgate) is used far more than its cousin
  • They have very different essential oil profiles.

References:

 

 

Artemisia Capillaris   Artemisia Capillaris Field  2009112185010580.jpg  et1008-1

Virgate Wormwood

Botanical Name: Artemisia capillaris
Family: Asteraceae “Sunflower family” “Daisy family”
Also known as: Capillary Wormwood, Yīn Chén Hao (茵陈蒿), Rumput roman

Parts Eaten:

Herbal Medicine:

  • Treatment of jaundice, hepatitis, inflammation, malaria, cancer, and microbial infections
  • The essential oils exhibit considerable inhibitory effects against oral bacteria
  • It has an antibacterial action.
  • The plant is anticholesterolemic, antipyretic, antiseptic, cholagogue, diuretic and vasodilator.
  • In Malaysia, the extra is used as a natural food preservative

Essential Oils

  • The seed and flowering stems contain essential oil.
  • The major active components of A. capillaris are scoparone and capillarisin, and the concentrations of these compounds are related to the season of harvest.
  • A. capillaris oil is rich in beta-pinene (9.4 %), beta-caryophyllene (11.1 %), and capillene (32.7 %).

Toxicity: 

  • 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:

  • It is a relative of Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus)
  • Many members of the genus Artemisia are important medicinal plants.
  • Is often translated as “tarragon” on the net but it is NOT tarragon
  • Erroneously referred to as Artemisia scoparia in many references

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)

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: