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The Fée Verte Absinthe Forum - The Oldest, Largest, Most Authoritative Absinthe Forum. > Absinthe & Absinthiana > Dr Magnan's Lab
kyle
Some years back we secured a plant of Artemisia Absinthium from a "seed bank" in the horticultural dept. of an University. Here the Govt. funds an dept. where they grow and keep what should be genetically pure plants. One of the Professors was staying in a hotel in our Mountains and left a plant for us. Now about 8 years later, and with some other plants from commercial growers (herb farms) we have established our own wormwood field, including Artemisia Pontica. We have been dividing the roots each year to increase the number of plants and finally this year we started the wormwood in your herb field. In our valley there grows a local / wild type of wormwood that is called Cernobyl - in English Artemisia Vulgaris or mugwort.

I am curious if anybody has any inexperience with possible cross-pollination and eventual hybridization between Vulgaris and Absinthium?
Kirk
I grow several varieties of artemisia in the same area, I've never seen any cross pollination. I used to worry about it happening but it never has. I have an idea that the hybrids and sub species evolve more from a stress or condition in the environment that causes mutation, also the genome itself has a lot variety locked up in it, not always expressed. I've been growing wormwood on a small commercial scale for about 5 years. I have noticed that plants that come up from dropped seed, or what I call "volunteers" display more variety than the original crop. A few of those volunteer wormwood plants flower all at one time, I think I might like that trait so I am propagating those plants, that is another way different hybrids evolve, by accident, then by choice.
kyle
Thank you Kirk,

I was worried and have been going around pulling all of the Vulgaris out of fear that it will contaminate my proper wormwood. The wormwood grande sprouts out of in between the paving stones and places you would think nothing could ever grow. We uprooted these and added them to my collection. To start my field I transplanted around 20 adult plants, then I took the flowered stalks that I saved from the previous year and shook them and rubbed them between my hands on freshly tilled soil. Now I have millions (literally) of tiny baby wormwood plants in my field. Picture below Click to view attachment
absinthist
Vulgaris can replace spiciness from coriander in the colouration, not that coriander is ever used in the latter.
Kirk
I know what you mean about unlikely places. The favorite place for volunteers around me is my gravel driveway, rocks and gravel seem to give it the ideal germinating spot.
Kirk
It occurs to me that you could make a stellar (non absinthe) product with simple maceration and settling. Genepi liqurs are often made without distilling the macerate. It's not absinthe but some of the tastiest liquor I ever had was genepi. You might find a wider niche with a product like that. 50 grams of genepi, 50 grams of sugar, steep in one liter 65 or better abv. Strain and color or not. If you color, use soft , coloring herbs. That's one recipe, there are more and maybe better ones but the best ones use distilling, not to say that the others were bad.
dakini_painter
The idea of a species is that it does not breed with another species, even of the same genus. This isn't always strictly so, but the species naming of plants isn't perfect.
Kirk
So imperfect that they almost need to scrap the whole thing and start over.
kyle
I am not a botanist, it is better to ask first than to make a mistake latter (regarding species). I have looked into the Genepi, as it is in some of the books that I have. I haven't gone out into the alpine meadows above us yet to see if they grow. I will have to ask one of the retired hunters if they have seen these plants first. I produce two herbal elixiers whose local sales are quickly over taking my absinth production. We provide these to two local Spas. Yellow Gentian grows in the alpine meadows above us, it is a main ingredient in one of our digestives and is used by the locals for homemade stomach drops as well.

Thank you for your input.
sixela
QUOTE(kyle @ Aug 15 2010, 02:46 PM) *

I am curious if anybody has any inexperience with possible cross-pollination and eventual hybridization between Vulgaris and Absinthium?


I wouldn't worry about it. We have bucketloads of Artemisia vulargis here and it never, ever hybridised with Artemisia absinthium, even though one local A.a. did hybridise with some cultivars of A.a. down the road (Lambrook silver) and with small plants fetched at Badia a Coneo in Tuscany.

Even in Tuscany, Badia a Coneo seems to have a local A.a. population entirely derived from plants in the herbary of the abbey, abandoned sometime in the late 12th century.

It's still A.a. in the 21st century despite all the mugwort around it (which it has entirely displaced in a radius of about 300m from the old abbey), so if you're worried about hybridisation, you're planning to become very old.

Incidentally, it's also, from the fragrance, probably kick-ass absinthe for distillation and in my limited empirical experience (if I can trust my nose and palate) closer to A.a. in "très verte" vintage absinthe A.a. than many modern cultivars used commercially now. Serge Helfrich and now Ton Akveld have a few descendants of a couple of plants, though I doubt they still have "pure" ones or the means to identify it.

It's very different from the "wild" A.a. that you can find not too far around Colle di Val d'Elsa, which is usually nothing to write home about.



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