Artemisia–bitter-sweet wonder plant

Artemisia annua has long been known as a treatment for all sorts of illness including cancer and malaria. We have also hear good things about it boosting peoples immune systems and being good for a general health boost. As you can see in our previous post we are growing Artemisia annua here  at Kira Farm Training Centre in Uganda. It is being grown to treat malaria in the students and staff. When we arrived we helped take a couple of hundred cuttings to bulk up the stock. Many of these died due to the lack of good propagation facilities – but enough survived to plant some out.

Cuttings require high humidity and fairly high temperatures. It turns out the air here is fairly humid and the temperature is always between 15-30 deg C. Perfect. All sorts of cuttings were taken and some of every type were successful. I took a whole lot of small cuttings (to minimise waterrloss) and these died at the same rate as the 20cm long cuttings. Cuttings were stuck in a mix of manure, sand and sawdust, and sprayed with a hose a few times a day. After a month about 15-20% have rooted and yesterday we planted out 40. We have to plant out in the evening otherwise water-loss through the day will kill the plants. Today they look fantastic and are doing well. Exciting times.

This is Patrick and Samuel, with Jimmy in the background, planting out our Artemisia.

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We have a solar dryer here so yesterday I cut an armload of fresh Artemisia and put it in the dryer. By lunchtime they were dry and I powdered them and turned some in to a tea. The guidelines we have are to put 5 grams in one litre of hot (but not boiling) water and drink this in 4 doses through out the day – then repeat this for 7 days. The problem with this is that the drink tastes fairly horrendous (to the point it is difficult for one of the younger students to keep down) – still, beats being sick with malaria.


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