Ambrosia tenuifolia Spreng (Altamisa)

Ambrosia tenuifolia Spreng (Ambrosiinae, Heliantheae) is a perennial herb of the Compositae family. The estimated total number of Ambrosia species reaches 40, all of them distributed on the American continent, except A. senegalensis, which grows in Egypt (). Ambrosia tenuifolia is a South American plant indigenous to Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina. A. tenuifolia Spreng and A. elatior L. are known in Argentina by the names of Altamisa and Ajenjo del Campo. Both plants are used by the natives in medicinal beverages since several pharmacological effects have been attributed to them.

Distribution and Importance of Ambrosia tenuifolia

In Argentina, Ambrosia tenuifolia () is found in the Provinces of Tucuman Catamarca, Cordoba, San Luis, Santa Fe, Buenos Aires, and Patagonia. It can grow in fertile, sandy, argillaceous, humid, or saltpetrous soil. It is propagated from seeds and rhizomes, especially during spring. It blooms at the end of the summer and during the autumn.

The composition of the essential oil of Ambrosia tenuifolia was studied by Talenti et al. (). It was evaluated by techniques in perfumery and considered to be of interest in the composition of perfumes.

Its infusion is used in popular medicine as a stimulant and tonic for the stomach. It is effective against fever, is an appreciated vermifuge, and has been also used to regulate menstruation; in combination with poleo (Lippia turbinata) it has been employed to relieve gastrointestinal disturbances (colics). The kind of sesquiterpene lactones isolated from this genus () have been demonstrated to be pharmacologically active () and may be the reason for the effects produced by the infusion.


Selections from the book: “Medicinal and Aromatic Plants V”, 1993.