Sweet Annie is a large hardy annual plant which originated in Europe and Asia and is now common throughout the world. The plant grows to a height of over 6' and is often considered a nuisance species. Sweet Annie has a very powerful and pleasant scent, so much so that it is sometimes used in sachets. The leaves are used in floral arrangements as filler foliage. The leaves are fern-like and have a vibrant green coloration, which they maintain very well after drying. Dried leaves are sometimes dyed to lend different hues to arrangements. The flowers are yellow and small in size.
The plant grows from a large central stalk which contain several branches which then diverge into leaves. It reproduces quite readily from seeds and presents more of a containment problem than one of propagation.
Some people report a mild allergic reaction to handling the plant foliage and flowers. The plant is attractive to bees, butterflies, and other insects.
The plant has been used for medicinal purposes since ancient times, but that usage had been largely forgotten. Mention of its use in a Chinese text circa the 4th century CE led to its rediscovery as a means to alleviate fever. Further testing indicates that it may also be useful in treatment of certain cancers. An extract of the plant called Artimisinin has been used since 1972 as a treatment for malaria, though commonly used in conjunction with other medications.
As with most plants and herbs, Sweet Annie is known by other names, some of which are:
- Sweet Sagewort
- Huang Hua Hao
- Chinese Fragrant Fern
- Sweet Wormwood