Thursday, March 08, 2012
PAIN IN THE ACREAGE
Artemisia vulgaris L. var. indica Maxim can be a real pain in the acreage if it takes over. Which like any weed it is always trying to do. I know, I know-- I'm being a bully, I'm being unfair in so crassly calling such a wonderful plant a weed, it's--well, the thing is, yomogi is a nice weed, I have to agree. It even looks gentle and unassuming, like a short friendly sheepdog with a splotchy green coat of droopy leaves. It grows all over the place in Spring-Summer; the garden is practically covered in green sheepdogs by mid-June. Need some yomogi? Just stick out an open hand and close it. If you're at my house you'll get a handful of yomogi; if you're elsewhere, who knows.
Yomogi spreads like a slow green fire, and would definitely be a noxious weed were it not so easy to pull up and so darned not-noxious at all, not to mention uniquely fragrant, in fact-- ok, downright useful, and in so many ways no less, and plants that grow wild in that quantity are just not supposed to be useful, it never happens; throughout life one wonders (mainly in childhood, when such questions are less subject to prompt resolution, and then again in the gardenhood of latterly life, when specially grown thoroughbred plant varieties too often wither and die as if cursed, and one cries to the garden gods in greater measure the question one first asked as a child, to wit): why don't plants we love grow like weeds do? Well, yomogi does grow like that, ergo the love thereof is somewhat iffy. Just goes to show you can't have everything, even when you do.
This yomogi I speak of in such rampantly weedy terms is mugwort, Japanese mugwort - mogusa, to be locally specific (hence, moxa, as in moxibustion) - in addition to being the yomogi of excellent tempura and yomogimochi (q.v.). What other not-really-a-weed type plant has the range of uses yomogi has, from profound medical to profound comestible, and gets away with looking and growing like a bona fide weed, yet puts into the Green Meanie Club those who would call it a weed?
Back when I had a big pain in the-- when I had sciatica and plunged a thick glowing toke of moxa onto a shochu-marinated biwa leaf placed right atop the sore region, the heat went in and in, and took the place of the pain, and left me grateful throughout. Still am. Yomogi is my friend, actually; I love yomogi. Who called it a weed? It's one of my best green friends!