Tansy

Tanacetum vulgare L.

Other common names: Tanacetum, bitter buttons, ginger plant, parsley fern. scented fern, English cost, hindheal.

Habitat and range: This is another garden plant introduced into this country from Europe and now escaped from cultivation, occurring as a weed along waysides and fences from New England to Minnesota and southward to North Carolina and Missouri.

Description. Tansy is strong-scented perennial herb with finely divided, fernlike leaves and yellow buttonlike flowers, and belongs to the aster family (Asteraceae). It has a stout, somewhat reddish, erect stem, usually smooth, 11/2 to 3 feet high, and branching near the top.

The entire leaf is about 6 inches long, its general outline oval, but it is divided nearly to the midrib into about seven pairs of segments, or lobes, which like the terminal one are again divided for about two-thirds of the distance to the midvein into smaller lobes having saw-toothed margins, giving to the leaf a somewhat feathery or fernlike appearance.

The yellow flowers, borne in terminal clusters, are roundish and flat topped, surrounded by a set of dry, overlapping scales (the involucre). Tansy is in flower from about July to September.

Collection, prices, and uses: The leaves and flowering tops of tansy are collected at the time of flowering and are carefully dried. They lose about four-fifths of their weight in drying. Their price ranges from about 3 to 5 cents a pound.

Tansy has a strong, aromatic odor and a bitter taste. It is poisonous and has been known to produce fatal results. It has stimulant, tonic, and emmenagogue properties and is also used as a remedy against worms.


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