Vail weeds: Absinth wormwood can be hard to remove |

Vail weeds: Absinth wormwood can be hard to remove

Gregg Barrie
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail Daily/ Chris Evans

VAIL, Colorado – Absinth wormwood – or, artemesia absinthium – was originally introduced into North America for its medicinal qualities. This plant is often confused for a native sage and can be found along roadsides and some native areas throughout Eagle County. This plant is targeted by Eagle County’s municipal and county noxious weed management programs.

The characteristics of absinth wormwood are:

• A long-lived perennial that dies back to the ground each year

• 3 to 5 feet tall with deeply lobed green to olive green foliage

• Multiple stems arise from a taproot, covered with fine silky hairs

• Strong sage odor

• Taproot up to 2 inches in diameter with shallow fibrous roots up to 6′ in all directions

• Prolific seeder

• Tolerates a wide range of soil conditions

• It is infamously known as the key ingredient in absinthe, a green liqueur of 19th also known as the “Green Fairy.” Legend has it that Van Gogh was drinking absinth when he cut off his ear.

To control absinth wormwood:

• For small infestations or individual plants, it may be possible to control by hand pulling. But when it can take many years after the root system has become extensive.

• Ensure that the entire root is removed, including the short horizontal roots. It is best to dig or hand pull when the soil is moist.

• For larger infestations and quick solutions, the use of a proper herbicide is recommended. Call Eagle County Weed and Pest or a licensed applicator for herbicide recommendations.

• Maintaining healthy native plant communities is the best way to prevent the establishment of noxious weeds. Absinth wormwood invades disturbed and bare areas so proper revegetation is critical to controlling this plant as well as other noxious weed species.

For more information on these plants and the Weed Management Programs in Eagle County visit or Or call the Eagle County Weed and Pest Department, 970-328-3540, the town of Vail Department of Public Works 970-479-2158, or the Eagle County Extension Office 970-328-8630.

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