Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

southernwood Artemisia abrotanum, also known as old man, maid’s ruin, lad’s love, or kiss-me-quick-and-go, is a native of S. Europe, where it grows wild in Italy and Spain. It is a relation of tarragon, wormwood, and mugwort, and is a tall and attractive plant, with feathery silver-green leaves and small yellow flowers (though it rarely flowers in northern climes).

It was grown in Britain in Elizabethan times, mainly for its medicinal properties; and has been used in minor ways in the kitchen in various European countries, e.g. Italy, where the young shoots flavour certain sweet dishes and the leaves may be included in stuffings for pork or goose, or to flavour vinegar. After being introduced to N. America around 1600 it became an occasional culinary ingredient there.