Common Name(s): Wormwood, Geranium, Running Wormwood
Scientific Name: Ambrosia hispida
Medicinal Uses: Leaves brewed as a tea to cure the common cold or in a compress for sprains. Also used in soap making in order to relieve itchy skin conditions.
With its silvering, lobed leaves, this plant’s resemblance to Artemisia absinthium – the Old World common wormwood – probably earned it its local moniker. Indeed, Cayman’s wormwood and the European/North African common wormwood are both members of the aster family – Asteraceae.
But, Cayman’s wormwood is actually a member of the genus Ambrosia and belongs to the group of flowering plants known as ragweed.
Despite ragweed pollen being a notorious allergen, the genus name is from the ancient Greek “α”, privative, and ßporos “mortal” meaning “food which makes immortal”. The Latin species name hispida means “bristly” and is a reference to its unique leaf shape.
The common name wormwood, however, has its roots in the Middle English wormwode or wermode and describes the medicinal uses of the plant – to destroy parasitic worms.
Cayman’s wormwood is more often used as a tea to treat the common cold and as a compress for sprains.