Tanacetum vulgare-Tansy

Family: Asteraceae or Compositae

Other names: Batchelor’s Buttons, T. aubiderti, Chrysanthemum vulgare, C. tanacetum,Golden Buttons Herb

hazardsmallThe plant is poisonous if large quantities are ingested. There have been cases of death in N. America from drinking strong brews of the tea, presumably as an abortifacient.

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

Habitat: A common European wild plant.

Glyn Baker [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Description of Tansy:

Tanacetum vulgare, Tansy is a PERENNIAL growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 1.5 m (5ft). Plant with Yellow Flowers.
It is hardy to zone 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Aug to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, beetles, self.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: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. Needs full sun. It prefers dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Cultivation of Tansy:

Succeeds in an ordinary garden soil. Plants thrive in almost any soil. 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. There are some named varieties. ‘Fernleaf’ is a more decorative compact form to about 75cm, it does not spread so quickly. The flowering plant attracts hoverflies and butterflies.

Companion plant:

A good plant to grow in the orchard, when grown under fruit trees, raspberries, roses etc it repels insects from them.

Propagation of Tansy:

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.

Collection: The leaves and flowers are collected during the flowering time between June and September.

Culinary uses of Tansy:

Edible Parts: Flowers;  Leaves.
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Tea.

Young leaflets – raw or cooked. They can be added in small quantities to salads. The plant is also used as a flavouring, it is a substitute for nutmeg and cinnamon. This plant is not recommended for internal use. The flowers have a unique flavour and are eaten or used as a garnish. A bitter, somewhat lemon-flavoured tea is made from the leaves and flowering stems.

Tanacetum_Vulgare,tansyMedicinal uses of Tansy:

Actions: Anthelmintic, bitter, carminative, emmenagogue.

Part Used: Aerial parts.

Indications: Tansy is an effective remedy for use in ridding the digestive tract of infestations of worms. Whilst it is quite safe for this, its continued use over a period of time should be avoided as some of the constituents of the oil are quite dangerous in large dosage. The herb is effective against roundworm and threadworm and may be used in children as an enema. As a bitter it will stimulate the digestive process and ease dyspepsia, having all the actions of a bitter tonic. It may be used as an emmenagogue to stimulate menstruation, but must be avoided during pregnancy. Externally a lotion may be useful in cases of scabies.

CAUTION: Avoid during pregnancy.

Combinations: For intestinal worms it may be used with Wormwood and a carminative such as Chamomile, in conjunction with a purgative like Senna.

Preparations & Dosage:

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto 1 teaspoonful of the dried herb and leave to infuse for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk twice a day.

Tincture: take 1-2ml of the tincture three times a day.

Other uses of Tansy:
tansy fairy
Esoteric uses of Tansy: 

Health, invisibility, immortality, longevity; keeps evil out of the home. Place a small amount in the shoe or add an infusion of tansy to the bath to keep the law away.

The Chemistry:


  • Volatile oil, thujone, sabinene, camphor, l, 8-cineole, umbellulone, [[alpha]]-pinene, bornyl acetate and germacrene D
  • Sesquiterpene lactones; parthenolide, artemorin, tatridin, 11, 13-dehydrodesacetyl- matricarin, l-epiludovicin-C
  • Flavonoids; apigenin, diosmetin, quercitin, jaceidin, jaceosidin.
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