Artemisia afra – Wilde Els

Family: Asteraceae


Artemisia afra is a perennial woody shrub, which grows up to 2 m tall with a leafy, hairy and ridged stem. Its leaves are of soft texture, dark green on the upper surface and a lighter green on the lower surface. It has a distinctive menthol, mint aroma. It is quite widely distributed throughout South Africa, but the best quality is found in slightly cooler regions.

Herb uses

The Artemisia family has become famous for the treatment of malaria and more recently, manufacturers based in Madagascar claimed that a related species was able to cure Covid-19. It is usually employed for treating a variety of ailments such as coughs, colds, headaches, chills, dyspepsia, loss of appetite, gastric problems, colic, croup, whooping-cough, gout, asthma, malaria, diabetes, bladder and kidney disorders, influenza, convulsions, fever, heart inflammation, rheumatism and is also used as a purgative. These uses indicate that A. afra possesses antiviral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory activities.

Common Names: wild wormwood, African wormwood (Eng.); wilde-als (Afr.); umhlonyane (isiXhosa); mhlonyane (isiZulu); lengana (Tswana); zengana (Southern Sotho)