Artemisia vulgaris

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Grown as a medicinal plant, most commonly as a vermifuge, Artemisia vulgaris is widely established in eastern North America and is often weedy in disturbed sites. Populational differences in morphologic forms are reflected in size of flowering heads, degree of dissection of leaves, and overall color of plants (from pale to dark green), suggesting multiple introductions that may date back to the first visits by Europeans. It is tempting to recognize the different forms as subspecies and varieties; the array of variation in the field is bewildering. If genetically distinct forms exist in native populations, the differences appear to have been blurred by introgression among the various introductions in North America. A case could be made for recognizing var. kamtschatica in Alaska based on its larger heads and shorter growth form; apparent introgression with populations that extend across Canada confounds that taxonomic segregation.