Wormwood (Artemisa absinthium[1]) is a very bitter herb, used in potion-making since ancient times.[2] An Infusion of Wormwood is used in the concoction of the Draught of Living Death, Elixir to Induce Euphoria, and the Shrinking Solution.[3] Harry Potter learned about this ingredient in his first Potion class, where Professor Snape "pointed it out for him".

Muggles use wormwood leaves for many things, including medicine and as a way to discourage fleas.[1] Wormwood's scientific name is derived from that of Artemis, the goddess of the hunt in Greek mythology.[1] Wormwood Oil can be poisonous in large amounts.[1]

Behind the scenes

  • In reality, wormwood is purported to have a wide range of uses (which may or may not hold true in the HP universe), including: antipyretic (febrifuge); anthelmintic; stomachic; tonic; hallucinogenic; and culinary. It is also believed to enhance psychic abilities in some religions (such as Wicca).
  • Only two of Wormwood's real uses correlate to its use in potion-making. Tonic liquids consist of carbonated, quinine enriched water. If the quinine content was too high, then one could theoretically overdose, inducing severe cinchonism (a.k.a. "quinism"), one of the effects of which is somnolence, similar to the effect the Draught of Living Death produces. Its hallucinogenic properties may be useful in the brewing of Elixir to Induce Euphoria also.
  • The other uses of wormwood may temper or eliminate side-effects of the other ingredients for Draught of the Living Death, hence justifying its inclusion into the mix. In Elixir to Induce Euphoria, however, its bitter taste may be the reason that the mixture has to be sweetened as well.
  • The idea that wormwood in the HP universe contains quinine (which may or may not be part of the reason for its choice as an ingredient in various potion) is supported by the fact that it is described as "very bitter" - quinine is famously bitter, hence its addition to tonic water.
  • Wormwood has a strong association with the Moon and lunar deities, like Artemis (whom the genus of wormwood plants is named after and who is said to possess powers that are also granted by wormwood).


See also

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Notes and references