Tansy, The Good Riddance Herb!   3 comments

Tansy, Tanacetum vulgare, a perennial, of the aster family; is, also known as Bitter Buttons, and Golden Buttons and grows throughout North America.  Tansy has a smooth, thick, often reddish stem, growing 3 – 5 feet tall, that branches near the top.

The leaves are alternate, 1 to 10 inches long and are deeply lobed, divided almost to the stem, into segments, with saw-toothed edges.

The round, button-like, green buds, and yellow to brown flowers, bloom in clusters, from mid-to-late summer. The delightful fragrance is very aromatic; reminiscent of rosemary and camphor.

The leaves and flowers are toxic when consumed in large quantities.

In Medicine Grove, Loren Cruden notes, “Tansy banishes what is unwanted; it is an ally of release.” (1)

The ancient Greeks were the first to record Tansy as a medicinal herb. Since then Tansy has been employed for a number of medicinal, culinary, insecticidal and embalming purposes.  Although most of its medicinal uses have been discredited, tansy is still a component of some medicines. In his Holistic Herbal, David Hoffman writes, “Externally a lotion will be useful in cases of scabies” (2)

The American colonists recognized Tansy’s usefulness, as meat was packed in tansy leaves to repel insects and delay spoiling. It was worn in shoes to prevent illness.  Used in embalming, Tansy was packed into coffins, inside funeral winding sheets, and tansy wreaths were placed on the dead. (3)

Tansy is an, organic gardening and sustainable agriculture, ally; when used in companion planting, for biological pest control. It has been shown to repel ants, cucumber beetles, Japanese beetles, squash bugs, ticks, flies, moths and mosquitoes, among others.  Some bee-keepers, burn Tansy, in their bee smokers.

A potted Tansy or bouquet can be placed on window sills to keep out flying invaders.

Sprigs placed in bed linens drive away tiny intruders. With all the recent press about bed bugs, I’m sure glad I know Tansy! I love the fragrance!  I made a Green Man mandala on my bed with Tansy; and asked him to rid me, and my environment, of all unwanted pests, on all planes.  He made me laugh and reminded me that laughter is, really, the best medicine.  I left him there all day to keep me company and to meditate and reflect upon; before I tucked his feathers and beads into my sheets.

There are beautiful bundles of drying Tansy, all around my home. And I haven’t seen wing nor flit of a single insect since hanging it! Crushed, dried or fresh, Tansy can be sprinkled, placed or stuffed into cracks, crevices, drawers, closets, linens, and between sofa or chair cushions to keep away pests.  I also, like to fancy up my outfit with a sprig of Tansy in my lapel; especially while I’m out foraging.  I’m so sweet that flying insects think I’m a meal.  Since taking up the practice of wearing a Tansy Posey I’ve had no stings or bites, in the field!  Hallalulah!  Thank you Gaia; I remain so very grateful.

I did get stung by a bee, yesterday, however, I was getting out of the car,  Poseyless! 

Be certain children and pets can’t get at it, due to the toxic nature attributed to Tansy’s constituents.

Tansy is an abortant, and should be avoided during pregnancy.

Tansy can cause contact dermatitis in sensitive folk.

Thujone, an active component of Tansy’s volatile oil, sensitizes neurons; increasing brain activity and can cause hallucinations, spasms, convulsions, liver and brain damage and death. (3)

Therefore Tansy goes into the “Unavoidable” category.  I’ll use Tansy for its decorative beauty and help in warding off pests.  Medicinal applications are best left to an expert.

Just click on any photo, to enlarge for greater detail.

Thanx for stopping by.  See you soon.


(1) Medicine Grove, Loren Cruden.

      Destiny Books, 1997

(2) Holistic Herbal, David Hoffman

      Element Books, 1996

(3) Wikipedia – Common Tansy


3 responses to “Tansy, The Good Riddance Herb!

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  1. Thanks for the great photos and detailed description of tansy! We also have tansy growing wild here in Berlin so I’ve recently placed some dried sprigs near my windows to keep away the bugs 🙂

  2. Pingback: Gathering Goldenrod « Forageporage's Blog

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