This plant is a biennial or short-lived perennial. During the
year, a rosette of basal leaves is produced. The basal leaves are up to
4" long and 3" across; they are deeply pinnatifid or bipinnatifid with
narrow linear lobes (up to 2" long and less than 1/8" across). They
have long petioles. During the 2nd and later years (if any), this plant
bolts to become 1½-3½' tall, while the rosette of basal leaves withers
away. The central stem and ascending lateral stems are light
to dark red, terete, and longitudinally veined. Usually the
tips of stems are tomentose (with short white cobwebby pubescence),
otherwise they are mostly glabrous. The cauline
along these stems; they are more common along the lower central and
lower lateral stems. The lower cauline leaves resemble the basal
leaves, except they have short petioles. Middle cauline leaves are
smaller in size and less divided into linear lobes, while
the upper cauline leaves are short (less than 1" long) and
in shape. The upper surfaces of the narrow leaf lobes are whitish
green, flat, and tomentose, becoming more glabrous with age. The lower
surfaces of the leaf lobes are light to medium green, rounded (convex),
and glabrous. The foliage is not strongly aromatic.
The upper stems
terminate in narrow panicles of flowerheads about 4-16" long.
Upper cauline leaves occur along these flowering stalks. Individual
flowerheads are whitish green or yellowish green and about 1/8" (3 mm.)
long and similarly across. Each flowerhead has 8-30 inner florets that
are perfect and 5-20 outer florets that are pistillate. Each inner
floret consists of a narrow tubular corolla with 5 teeth along its
upper rim, some fertile stamens, and an abortive ovary that is sterile.
Each outer floret consists of a narrow tubular corolla with 2-3 teeth
along its upper rim and a fertile ovary with a divided style. At
maturity, the flowerheads droop downward from short pedicels. The base
of each flowerhead is surrounded by appressed bracts (phyllaries);
individual bracts are lanceolate to ovate and up to 2 mm. long. The
blooming period occurs from mid-summer to early autumn for about 2-3
weeks. The florets are cross-pollinated primarily by the wind. The
outer florets of the flowerheads are replaced by bullet-shaped achenes
about 0.8-1.0 mm. in length; the achenes are without tufts of hair or a
crown of scales. They are usually distributed only a short distance from the
mother plant by the wind. The root system consists of a woody taproot
or caudex with lateral roots. This
plant reproduces by reseeding itself.
The preference is full sun, dry conditions, and sandy soil. During hot
dry periods, it is not uncommon for the lower leaves to wither away.
This plant has some tolerance to road salt.
Beach Wormwood is occasional in northern Illinois and also in the
central section of the state along the Illinois River; otherwise it is
rare or absent. Only ssp.
caudata occurs within the state; the
typical subspecies is found in Europe. Habitats include semi-stabilized
sand dunes along Lake Michigan, dry areas of beaches, dry sand
prairies, openings in sandy savannas, rocky glades, ledges
cliffs, sand bars and gravel bars along major rivers, abandoned sandy
fields, and sandy roadsides. Beach Wormwood prefers sandy areas where
there has been some disturbance from wind or wildfires.
Associations: To a limited extent, Beach Wormwood
cross-pollinated by small bees and flies seeking pollen from the
flowerheads. The foliage is sometimes eaten by Melanoplus foedus
(Striped Sand Grasshopper), Melanoplus
keeleri (Keeler's Grasshopper),
and other grasshoppers that inhabit barren sandy areas. Other insect
feeders include the caterpillars of Phaneta argenticostana
Moth sp.) and Schinia
nuchalis (Spotted Clover Moth), which feed on the
seedheads and flowerheads; the caterpillars of the butterflies Vanessa
cardui (Painted Lady) and Vanessa virginiensis
(American Painted Lady);
the plant bugs Europiella
bakeri and Lygus
atritibialis; and the aphid
ludovicianae. Because of its bitter taste and mild
toxicity, cattle and other mammalian herbivores in the Midwest avoid
consumption of this plant. However, vertebrate wildlife in the western
states make greater use of Artemisia
spp. as sources of food.
Location: A sand dune along Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes
in NW Indiana.
Beach Wormwood is the primary host of a rare parasitic plant,
(Clustered Broomrape). The pale flowering stalk
of this parasitic plant can be observed near Beach Wormwood during late
spring or summer. A similar species, Orobanche ludoviciana
Broomrape), is also parasitic on Beach Wormwood, but this latter
species is parasitic on a variety of other species in the Asteraceae.
Among the several Artemisia
in Illinois, Beach Wormwood can be
identified by the toothless linear lobes (less than 1/8" across) of its
deeply divided leaves. It is also unusual in
having perfect florets with sterile ovaries, which
normally fertile in other
Another common name of Artemisia
campestris caudata is
Field Sagewort. A scientific synonym of this species is Artemisia