Southernwood may seem like a minimal spread plant, but it has toured the world in the past few centuries. Despite its name, Southernwood is not a tree.
Instead, it is a short-growing herbaceous that produces small flowers. It is usually identified by its frilly foliage and its strong smell of camphor. Southernwood’s species name is Artemisia abrotanum, making it part of the larger genus Artemisia.
Artemisia belongs to the family Asteraceae, which includes about 2, 000 flowering plants. This plant is native to Africa and Eurasia but naturalized in scattered locations across North America.
Southernwood is a hardy perennial. It typically grows as a subshrub and can reach a height of between 24 and 60 inches (60 and 150 cm). However, it is much smaller mostly. The plant has gray-green pinnate leaves, slightly furrowed and surprisingly glabrous on the underside. The leaves are alternately arranged on the slightly hairy stems. Flowering usually takes place between mid-summer and the late summer. The Southernwood produces yellow to white flowers. Each plant forms many small inflorescences. Large flowers up to 5 mm (0.2 in) are arranged in a piston-shaped raceme.