desert or white wormwood

desert or white wormwood / Artemisia sieberi Besser / شيح سيبري

Status: Common

A low perennial desert shrub of the Asteraceae (Compositae) family that can grow from 20-50 cm in height and is generally grey and hairy. Among its adaptations to the harsh desert climate are the large multi-lobes winter leaves which are exchanged for tiny leaves in the summer. All parts of the plant are covered with glandular hairs and essential oil glands with a very strong scent.

The light yellow connate hermaphrodite florets are arranged in flowerheads, on the tops of the branches. Pollination is by wind.

Flowering period: It flowers in the fall, from August to October. Uncharacteristically for this family, the fruit is a seed with no hairs for wind dispersal.

Ecology: It is found in calcareous soils as well as loess in the desert, in wide wadis and rocky terrain.

Common and medicinal uses: An infusion made of a piece of stem can be used to remedy stomach aches. Its leaves are used to treat food poisoning, fever, eye infection, respiratory ailments such as coughs and a runny nose, as well as treat worms in children. It is used to treat high blood pressure and diabetes. It is also used as a flavorful infusion.

Distribution in Palestine: Found in the eastern slopes deserts, as well as the Judean Mountains and the Dead Sea valley.

IUCN red list status: not evaluated

Local status: least concern