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Tanacetum vulgare - L.

Common Name Tansy, Common tansy, Golden Buttons, Curly Leaf Tansy
Family Asteraceae or Compositae
USDA hardiness 3-9
Known Hazards The plant is poisonous if large quantities are ingested[20, 21, 76]. There have been cases of death in N. America from drinking strong brews of the tea, presumably as an abortifacient[207].
Habitats A common plant of waste ground, hedgerows etc[17].
Range Most of Europe, including Britain, to the Caucasus, Armenia and Siberia.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Tanacetum vulgare Tansy, Common tansy, Golden Buttons, Curly Leaf Tansy

Tanacetum vulgare Tansy, Common tansy, Golden Buttons, Curly Leaf Tansy


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Bloom Color: Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early fall, Late summer, Mid summer, Mid fall. Form: Rounded.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Tanacetum vulgare is a PERENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 1.5 m (5ft) at a fast rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from August to September, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees, flies, beetles. The plant is self-fertile.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


T. aubiderti. Chrysanthemum vulgare. C. tanacetum.

Plant Habitats

 Meadow; Hedgerow; Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Flowers  Leaves
Edible Uses: Condiment  Tea

Young leaflets - raw or cooked[5, 7, 13, 52, 53]. They can be added in small quantities to salads[183]. The plant is also used as a flavouring, it is a substitute for nutmeg and cinnamon[12, 27, 37, 55, 115]. This plant is not recommended for internal use[200]. The flowers have a unique flavour and are eaten or used as a garnish[183]. A bitter, somewhat lemon-flavoured tea is made from the leaves and flowering stems[183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Anthelmintic  Antirheumatic  Antispasmodic  Appetizer  Bitter  Carminative  Emmenagogue  Poultice  
Stimulant  Tonic

Tansy is a commonly grown domestic remedy, useful in treating a wide range of complaints, though it is little used in modern herbalism[4, 254]. Its main value is as a vermifuge to expel intestinal worms and, to a lesser degree, to help stimulate menstrual bleeding[254]. Tansy should be used with caution, however, it is possibly unsafe for internal use, especially if you are pregnant[238]. The essential oil in the leaves is toxic and as little as ½oz can kill an adult[21, 222]. The leaves and flowering tops are anthelmintic, antispasmodic, bitter, carminative, emmenagogue, stimulant and tonic[4, 7, 9, 21, 46, 165]. An infusion of the leaves or whole plant is used to treat menstrual irregularities and as an anthelmintic, especially for children[4, 213]. It is also valuable in treating hysteria, kidney weaknesses, stomach problems, fevers and also as an emmenagogue[4]. In larger doses the plant can procure an abortion, though these doses can be poisonous[213]. Externally, tansy is used as a poultice on swellings and some eruptive skin diseases[4]. It is also used externally to kill lice, fleas and scabies, though even external use of the plant carries the risk of toxicity[254]. The plant is harvested as it is coming into flower and is dried for later use[4]. The seeds are used as an anthelmintic[207].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Compost  Dye  Essential  Insecticide  Repellent  Strewing

A green dye is obtained from the young shoots[4, 115]. The leaves and flowers can also be used and a yellow can also be obtained[169]. The plant is used as a strewing herb in cellars, churches etc in order to repel insects[4, 14, 20, 61, 201, 238]. Both the growing and the dried plant are said to repel flies, ants and fleas, especially if they are mixed with elder leaves (Sambucus spp.)[4, 12, 14, 18, 200, 201]. The leaves and the flowering shoots contain 0.15% of an essential oil that contains camphor, borneol and thujone[7, 213]. Both the leaves and the oil and they have been used to kill fleas and lice[213]. Thujone is an effective insecticide, but it is highly toxic to mammals when taken in excess[238]. The plant is a good addition to the compost heap, being valued for its mineral content[200]. Attractive flowers. Attracts wildlife. Landscape Uses:Container. Dynamic accumulator.

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Dynamic accumulator  Food Forest  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Succeeds in an ordinary garden soil[1]. Plants thrive in almost any soil[4]. Tansy is occasionally grown in the herb garden, though a site for growing this plant should be selected with care since it usually spreads very aggressively at the roots[4, 14]. There are some named varieties[238]. 'Fernleaf' is a more decorative compact form to about 75cm, it does not spread so quickly. A good plant to grow in the orchard, when grown under fruit trees, raspberries, roses etc it repels insects from them[201]. The flowering plant attracts hoverflies and butterflies. Special Features: Edible, Fragrant foliage, Not North American native, Invasive, Naturalizing, Suitable for cut flowers, Suitable for dried flowers, Fragrant flowers. In garden design, as well as the above-ground architecture of a plant, root structure considerations help in choosing plants that work together for their optimal soil requirements including nutrients and water. The root pattern is rhizomatous with underground stems sending roots and shoots along their length [2-1].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

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Plant Propagation

Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse. Only just cover the seed and do not allow the pot to dry out. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and plant out in the summer. Division is very simple at almost any time in the growing season, though spring is probably best. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is best to pot up smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse or cold frame until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the summer or the following spring.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
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Tanacetum coccineumPyrethrum, Pyrethum daisy, Persian Insect Flower, Painted DaisyPerennial0.6 4-10 MLMHSNM003
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Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


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Readers comment

Thomas A. Reisner   Sat Sep 23 2006

I have for years harvested the dry, ripe seeds of T. vulgare, removing them from the florets with a pointed object starting in September (after they turn black). The seeds, briefly infused with boiling water (for about 3 minutes) and served a little sweetened make a delicious and refreshing tea-like beverage. Subject to warnings concerning toxicity in large amounts, I can recommend tansy to all tea lovers.

Barbara Barber   Tue Dec 5 2006

Is Tanacetum vulgare anti-tumoral?

Lawler Barnes   Tue Jan 16 2007

Nature Abhors a Garden Tansy will be the subject on 1/21/07

Joyce Ann Caldwell   Sat Sep 27 2008

I live in Cullman Alabama, and the flea investation does not respond to frontline, and or advantage, and or the flea pills. I need to surround my property with flea killing plants. I will try the Tansy. Thank you

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