Common Tansy

Ojibway: Oshkiniikwebagoons
Latin: Tanacetum vulgare L.

Common-Tansy-1

Common Names
  • Chamomile
  • Tansy
Description

Erect perennial with flat-topped clusters of bright orange-yellow, button-like flower heads.

Flowers

Heads 1.3 cm (1/2 in.) wide, composed entirely of disk flowers with occasional ray-like extensions developing from marginal flowers; July to September.

Leaves

10-20 cm (4-8 in.) long, divided into linear, toothed segments, strongly aromatic.

Height
Common-Tansy-2

60-90 cm (2-3 ft.) tall.

Habitat

Roadsides and edges of fields (escaped from gardens).

Range

Throughout much of North America, except Texas, South Carolina to Alabama, and Arctic.

Discussion

The fresh young leaves and flowers have been used as a substitute for sage in cooking, but given the potential toxicity of this plant, ingesting it is not recommended. Nonetheless, it was used for sore throuts, women’s diseases, fevers and soreness of the ear. Extracts from this plant cannot be used as a natural pesticide to keep insects away from vegetables. This plant is very invasive at
the mounds, and is out-competing other plants.

Warning

Tansy, and herbal extracts derived from it, can be poisonous and even fatal to humans. For centuries this plant was used medicinally to cause abortions, with occasionally fatal results. The bitter-tasting leaves and stem contain tanacetum, an oil toxic to humans and animals.