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Dysphania anthelmintica and Dysphania ambrosioides are very similiar species which are often combined in botanical texts. They have been used interchangeably as culinary and medicinal herb since antiguity from the Southwestern US to Central America. They are essential in many Mexican and Guatemalan recipes Not only do the leaves impart a wonderful flavor and vitiamins to beans, quesadillas and numerous other dishes, they also reduces intestinal gas. They have been used in medicinally iin humans and animals for many ailments. It is an important plant for wildlife. It is a larval host of the Common Sootywing Butterfly and varous moths. . Songbirds hunt among the plants for the insects.. and the feast on the nutrient rich seeds which are produced from June until November and hang on well into the winter.
Since these species have been cultivated since antiquity, natural distribution is difficult to determine. The Flora of North America descrbes the distribution and nativity of Dysphania anthelmintica (Dune Wormseed) this way “Ala., Ark., Calif., Del., Fla., Ga., Ill., Ind., Kans., Ky., La., Md., Mass., Miss., Mo., N.J., N.Y., N.C., Ohio, Okla., Pa., S.C., Tex., Va., W.Va.; Mexico, West Indies, Bermuda, Central America.. This species appears to be the most common representative along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and is probably native to that region. We propagated our first plants from a native population on Hilton Head Island in early 1990’s. They have been naturalized around the nursery since then.
Plant in a well-drained sunny site. Coming fron the sand dunes, they tolerate high Calcium soils, shifting sands, salt wind and occasional salt flooding. They are highly deer resistant Plant tastier plants among them to protect them from browsing. Stems can be cut back all the way to the ground to promote bushiness. They are usually evergreen in the sea islands of South Carolina. Individual plants do not live a long time. However, they spread readily by seed.