Looking for Mugwort
Answered by: Richters Staff
Question from: G Wyell
Posted: Before April 1998

I’m looking for mugwort. I’m in Switzerland, and even if there was a place here that had herbs, I have no idea of the name it has here. I can find the names of most of the others. Anyway, I would like to know how to order some mugwort and what kind of problems may come up with customs and what not. I would also like to get some eyebright as long as I’m going to be making an order. Maybe some more stuff too. Depends of my money situation and all the costs put together i.e.: customs; shipping; etc. etc.

The German name for mugwort is "beifuss". There are several species of mugwort, but the most common one is known botanically as Artemisia vulgaris.

Mugwort grows easily from seeds. You can also order plants. It is a hardy perennial, and it thrives in full sun and in most soils. It grows up to 2 m (6 ft) high.

There are no problems shipping seeds to most European countries. We do not charge extra to ship seeds to Europe. Live plants, however, are costly to ship because most countries require the removal of all soil from the roots and a special plant health certificate; so, we recommend that you order seeds. If you are looking for dried leaves, we have those available also. We ship seeds by airmail and dried herbs by surface parcel post with few problems to most countries.

Eyebright (Euphrasia officinalis) is tricky to grow. This is paradoxical because it is a weed in parts of Europe and North America. Because of its semi-parasitical nature (it feeds on neighbouring grasses), it is difficult to establish in new areas. The seeds, when they can be found, are difficult to germinate. We have carried eyebright seeds in the past, but we have never had a reliable source. If you are looking for dried leaves, we do carry them and there is no problem shipping them by surface parcel post.

A============================= Subject: Planting Neem Trees as an Insect Repellent
Answered by: Richters Staff
Question from: Paul Jilek
Posted: Before April 1998

An Australian company is promoting the planting of "Neem Trees" (4 per acre) as a means of getting rid of sandflies and mosquitoes. My company is interested in this idea and wants to see if the claims are based on any scientific evidence. Help on this would be greatly appreciated.

The book, "Neem: A Tree for Solving Global Problems" (available from Richters) has a very good review of the uses of neem. There are many references to the scientific literature and an extensive list of research contacts.

There is a wealth of data indicating that neem extracts have strong effects on insects. Neem compounds mimic insect hormones and act to confuse the normal hormonal balance in insects. When exposed to neem compounds insects cannot reproduce and their populations plummet. The precise effects depend on the insect type and their life cycle stage.

According to the above-mentioned book, neem kills the larvae and disrupts moulting in the yellow-fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) and is toxic to larvae of the house mosquito. "They stop feeding and die within 24 hours after treatment." It goes on to say that "in one test, crushed neem seeds thrown in pools proved nearly as effective at preventing mosquito breeding as methoprene..." There is no mention of any effect on sandflies, but over 200 species of insects are sensitive to neem.

These are the effects of applying neem compounds on insect larvae or on the leaves on which they feed. I could not find any mention of a repellent effect by the mere presence of neem trees. There does not seem to be any indication that neem trees can lower mosquito populations, other than by the effect of seeds dispersing over breeding pools. This is not to say that neem cannot have this effect; only that this effect was not noticed by the ad hoc panel of the National Research Council that wrote the book.

I would note that neem trees are common in Ghana when I visited in 1994. I contracted malaria despite the presence of neem trees within 30 metres of where I was staying. I am suspicious of claims of repellent action. However, the degree to which neem varies in chemical properties from country to country is still unknown and may be important in explaining differences in efficacy of neem products produced in different regions.

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