Artemisia herba-alba Asso


Common names: Wormwood (English); armoise (French); shīeh (Arabic).



Micro-chamaephyte, i.e. a perennial in which the living parts of aerial shoots become very reduced in summer, 20-40 cm, aromatic, tomentose, greyish, easily uprooted owing to its superficially ramified roots. Heads sessile, oblong, 3-4 mm, 2-4 flowered.




Loess and grey steppe and desert soils


West Irano-Turanian, but it extends until the Atlantic coast in North Africa.


In the badia: Al-Khatīb: diabetes.

Field data: falling hair (crushed and applied to hair), chest, stomach, muscular pains (fumigations), cough, diarrhea, fever, poisoning (to drink and for irrigation), vomit, lungs, flatulence.

Artemisia herba-alba ASSO.
Jebel belás, Spring 2000

In literature: vermifuge (and stomach-aches), tonic, diuretic (infusion), skin trouble (internal-external, also cuts). Methods: flowers, seeds, and also the whole plant are boiled, to make a strong tea; a light tea, made with young leaves and flowers, is used as a tonic; macerated leaves with olive oil for skin lesions; vermifuge, emmenagogue, diuretic, stomachic, intestinal antiseptic, tonic, cholagogue, depurative, antidiabetic; sedative for palpitations, vermifuge, diabetes. Widely used as a fuel plant and exploited as a pasture plant. Considered a remedy for all kinds of troubles at a wide, popular level, as some proverbs testify: "Celui qui a experimenté l'armoise blanche ne peut passer a côté d'elle sans l'emporter" and "If you have an enemy, don't give him shīeh".

Palatability and importance as forage

Grazed by livestock.

Chemical Data

Essential oil with irregular monoterpene alcohols, sesquiterpene lactones, thymol; non-glycosidic flavonoids (leaves and stems).

Additional Information

A leading species in many plant communities, and one of the most common shrubs in the area, often mixed with Anabasis syriaca.


Bedevian, A. K. 1936. Illustrated Polyglottic Dictionary of Plant names. Cairo, Argus D Papazian Presses.

Ozenda, P. 1991. Flore et végétation du Sahara. Paris, Ed. du CNRS.


Edited by: F. Guiso Gallisai
Information taken from: Sincich, F. 2002. Bedouin Traditional Medicine in the Syrian Steppe. Rome, FAO. 114-115.

All pictures and drawings belong to the author.


The presentation of material in this profile do not imply the expression of any opinion on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and has been taken from interviews with the traditional Bedouin doctor, Al-Khatīb and from data collected directly from Bedouins informants.