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Tansy


    Scientific Names

    Tansy
    • Tanacetum vulgare L.
    • Chrysanthemum vulgare
    • Compositae
    • Composite family

    Common Names

    ivyAlhanasia (Greek name meaning “immortality”)
    ivyBachelor’s buttons
    ivyBitter buttons
    ivyCommon tansy
    ivyGinger plant
    ivyGolden buttons
    ivyHindheal
    ivyParsley fern
    ivyStinking Willie
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    Parts Usually Used

    Flowers, seeds
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    Description of Plant(s) and Culture

    Tansy was once valued as a pot herb. It can be recognized by its feathery leaves and clusters of bright yellow button-like flowers. Full sun or partial shade. Zones 4-9.

    Tansy is an aromatic, perennial plant which is cultivated and also found growing wild. The short creeping rootstock sends an erect, nearly round, often purplish-brown stem to a height of 1-5 feet. The alternate, smooth, lanceolate, dark green, fernlike, leaves are pinnately divided, their segments acute and toothed. Blooming from July to September, the golden-yellow flowers (1/2 inch rayless buttons) grow in terminal, flattened cymes. The fruit is an achene (a small, dry fruit with one seed which is attached to the ovary wall only at one point).

    Pick tansy blossoms for drying as an ornamental in dry arrangements. Do not use tansy as a tea, food, or medicine; it can be toxic.
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    Where Found

    Flourishes in waste places, fields, and at roadsides. Native European plant. It grows in Europe, in the United States from the Atlantic seaboard westward to Minnesota, and in Oregon and Nevada.
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    Medicinal Properties

    Aromatic, diaphoretic, anthelmintic, emmenogogue (assists menstrual flow), carminative (relieves intestinal gas), vermifuge (expel intestinal worms) and tonic.

    Seeds: vermifuge
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    Biochemical Information

    Essential oil, possibly thujone, bitter principles, glycosides, tanacetin 1 and 11, acid, resin, sugar, fat and cartenoids.
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    Legends, Myths and Stories

    Tansy’s generic name, Tanacetum, is from the Greek word athanasia, “immortality”; in times past, coffins were filled with tansy to preserve corpses precisely because the flowers do not wilt when dried.

    Tansy was mentioned in writings as early as 5,000 BC. It reached its height of popularity in the Middle Ages.

    The whole plant has a camphoraceous odor. The plant is cultivated today for the oil which is so powerful that its use is not recommended except by a medical practitioner. Used for thousands of years, until about the mid 19th century, as an embalming agent.

    Tansy is still used by some cultures for culinary as well as medicinal purposes.

    Tansy, a native of Europe, was one of the first plants brought to North America by European settlers; even before the Revolution it has escaped colonial gardens and was showing up along roadsides.

    In old-time gardens, tansy was grown around peach trees as a preventative against insects.
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    Uses

    Tansy is useful in improving the circulation, and treating varicose veins. A tsp. of herb should be infused in a cupful of water, and drink the liquid twice per day or applied externally to varicose veins, bruises, minor swellings or sties. Some herbalists regard tansy as a general tonic and also is a remedy for poor appetite, ague, jaundice, sciatica, toothache, bruises, sunburn, leukorrhea, and certain forms of dropsy.

    A strong remedy to promote delayed or stopped menstruation. The seeds are used to eliminate worms (pinworms). The oil is externally applied to treat injuries, bruises and rheumatic complaints.

    Tansy can be poisonous even when applied externally; therefore, it is little used. Tansy can be taken in small to moderate doses only; preferably under medical supervision.

    Leaves are insecticidal. Plant under fruit trees; companion to roses and raspberries. Deters flying insects, Japanese beetles, striped cucumber beetles, squash bugs, and ants.
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    Formulas or Dosages

    1 tsp. steeped in a cup of boiling water for 20 minutes, one cup 2 or 3 times per day. In formulas 1-3 gms.
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    How Sold

    It is illegal to sell this herb as tea, food or medicine.
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    Warning

    The essential oil derived from tansy is very powerful, drastic in action, and poisonous in overdoses.

    Tansy can be poisonous even when applied externally; therefore, it is little used. An overdose of tansy oil or tea can be fatal. Oil is considered lethal.

    1/2 oz. can kill in 2-4 hours. It is illegal to sell this herb as tea, food or medicine. May cause dermatitis.

    Use tansy only under medical supervision.
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    Resource Links

    Drugs.com: Tansy

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    Bibliography

    Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

    Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

    Buy It! Indian Uses of Native Plants, by Edith Van Allen Murphey, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1958, print 1990

    Buy It! Culpeper's Complete Herbal & English Physician: Updated With 117 Modern Herbs, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

    Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

    Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

    Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

    Herbal Gardening, compiled by The Robison York State Herb Garden, Cornell Plantations, Matthaei Botanical Gardens of the University of Michigan, University of California Botanical Garden, Berkeley., Pantheon Books, Knopf Publishing Group, New York, 1994, first edition

    Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

    Buy It! How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts, by Frances Densmore, Dover Publications, Inc., 180 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014, first printed by the United States Government Printing Office, Washington, in 1928, this Dover edition 1974

    Buy It! American Folk Medicine/i>, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

    Buy It! Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, 15th Edition, F. A. Davis Company, 1915 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

    Buy It! Webster's New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

    Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

    Buy It! The Rodale Herb Book: How to Use, Grow, and Buy Nature's Miracle Plants (An Organic gardening and farming book), edited by William H. Hylton, Rodale Press, Inc. Emmaus, PA, 18049., 1974

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