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The Gardener's Kitchen: Tansy

Updated on June 7, 2013

natural dying

I included the link in this hub to provide you with an historical look at tansy, not and I repeat not, for the medicinal uses it metnions.

Tansy has been used as an insect repellant and if you happen upon some you may want to gather the leaves. You can tie them together and hang them up some claim this will keep some bugs away. In addition, the dried leaves have been used to control ants. You sprinkle the dried leaves in aeas to act as an ant barrier.

The positive side to the tansy tale is that the yellow flowers are used to produce a natural yellow dye.

Tansy is a plant that does not need human attention to grow. It can be wildcrafted and while you must always pick plants in the wild with care, picking only a few, you can sretch this rule some when it comes to tansy. If you live near a livestock rancher you may be able to get picking rights for free.


courtesy; Carl E. Lewis/ flickr
courtesy; Carl E. Lewis/ flickr


Common tansy (Tanacetum vulgare L.) also know as golden buttons or parslet fern is a perennial whihc has flowers that look like small yellow buttons grouped together in flat-topped clusters. There can be 20 - 200 flower heads per plant.

Tansy leaves are deeply divided into toothed segments that are dotted with small glands. It is an aromatic plant with somewhat woody stems forming dense patches. Clumps of tansy can grow as tall as 1.5 - 2 metres.

Tansy traces its origins back to Europe which is often found in non-crop areas, roadsides, low areas and on stream banks.

It is very proflific and can rapidly take over pastures where competition by desired species is reduced, for example, an overgrazed pasture situation. T has been reported to be toxic to livestock.

Tansy seeds have been known to remain viable in the soil for up to 25 years, and tilling alone can bring the seeds to the surface in a heavily infested area.

This is an attractive but dangerous plant that does not belong in your garden but it grows so well, a trip in the country or even around town can yeiled you a good crop.

Now, you are naturally asking why would I bother to pick tansy. Good question. Tansy is not recommended as a healing herb. It is possible this plant has some medicinal propertis, however, when used in large doses it can cause violent reactions and seizures.

So what is it used for, well it does attract bees and ladybugs, so you could plant it in conatiners but a sungle tansy plant prodcues many seeds and some are going to escape. Besides there are many other plants that serve the same function.


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  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    Creating a food forest is a great way to renew an orchard, even a small one. Thanks for dropping by.

  • Bob Ewing profile image

    Bob Ewing 9 years ago from New Brunswick

    Tansy is a survivor. Thanks for dropping by.

  • profile image

    Nolimits Nana 9 years ago

    I made the mistake of gathering some tansy seedheads a few years ago, because I liked the flowers. I now have it growing everywhere! Be careful in planting it, it definitely will spread - not just the seed, but by roots.

  • profile image

    LifesStudent 9 years ago

    I have just put Tansy on my list to companion plant in my orchard underneath my peach and nectarine trees. I'm attempting to renovate a small (20 trees) neglected orchard and turn it into a bit more of a food forest with layers of trees, shrubs, bushes, groundcovers and herbs - Permaculture style. Thanks for the tip about putting it into a pot rather than in the ground! Great Hub, thanks Bob as always I learn something from you.

  • RKHenry profile image

    RKHenry 9 years ago from Neighborhood museum in Somewhere, USA

    You sure know your stuff.