Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Common Tansy - Tanacetum vulgare



Other Uses

Medicinal Uses



General Growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 1.5 m (5ft) at a fast rate.[PFAF] glabrous to sparsely hairy.[IFBC][E-flora]
Lifecycle Perennial.[E-flora][PFAF]
Flowers Hairy at the base; ray flowers lacking; marginal flowers glandular, 3-lobed; disk flowers yellow, 5-toothed into rounded lobes, sparsely glandular.[IFBC] [E-flora] heads golden or tawny, many in a corymbose inflorescence.[HNW] Flower heads 20-200. Small disk flower buttons.[WildPNW]

Fruits Achenes squared off at top, 5-angled.[IFBC] [E-flora]
Leaves "Basal leaves lacking; stem leaves alternate".[IFBC][E-flora] Coarsely dissected pinnate leaves.[PSW] Deeply divided into numerous narrow, toothed segments. [WeedsW] Leaves 1-2 in. wide, dotted with glands but hairless.[WildPNW]
Stem Stout and erect. [HNW] "Stems are 1 1/2 to 6 feet tall."[WeedsW]
Root Stout rhizome.[IFBC][E-flora] Rhizomatous.[HNW] forming dense colonies. [WildPNW]
Properties Strong disagreeable odor.[PCBC2004] Pungent odor.[WildPNW]
Habitat A common plant of waste ground, hedgerows etc[17].[PFAF] "Mesic to dry roadsides, fields, and disturbed areas...".[IFBC][E-flora] "Roadsides, railway embankments and other disturbed areas."[PCBC2004]
Range Most of Europe, including Britain, to the Caucasus, Armenia and Siberia. [PFAF] "common in BC south of 55degreeN; introduced from Europe."[IFBC][E-flora] It "is common at low elevations in the southern half of the region and sporadic further north." [PCBC2004]
Status Exotic. [E-flora]
Similar Species
1. Heads disciform, numerous, usually 20-200.......................T. vulgare
1. Heads with ray and disk flowers, few to many, usually less than 20
2. Rays flowers white; leaves once or twice pinnately divided, the relatively broad segments often overlapping.......................T. parthenium
2. Rays flowers yellow; leaves twice to three times pinnately divided, the segments not at all overlapping........................T. bipinnatum [IFBC][E-flora]
Notes listed as one of the top fourteen species of concern by the Coastal Invasive Plant Committee.[E-flora]

Dune Tansy, Tanacetum bipnnatum is a native species found infrequently in sand dunes along coastal B.C., south to California.[IFBC][E-flora-2]


Tansy is a commonly grown domestic remedy, useful in treating a wide range of complaints, though it is little used in modern herbalism[4, 254]. Its main value is as a vermifuge to expel intestinal worms and, to a lesser degree, to help stimulate menstrual bleeding[254]. Tansy should be used with caution, however, it is possibly unsafe for internal use, especially if you are pregnant[238]. [PFAF]

An infusion of the leaves or whole plant is used to treat menstrual irregularities and as an anthelmintic, especially for children[4, 213]. It is also valuable in treating hysteria, kidney weaknesses, stomach problems, fevers and also as an emmenagogue[4]. In larger doses the plant can procure an abortion, though these doses can be poisonous[213]. Externally, tansy is used as a poultice on swellings and some eruptive skin diseases[4]. It is also used externally to kill lice, fleas and scabies, though even external use of the plant carries the risk of toxicity[254]. The plant is harvested as it is coming into flower and is dried for later use[4].[PFAF]

Liver & Gallbladder: Teas and ethanolic extracts clinically stimulate bile in patients with gallbladder and liver problems, increasing appetite and digestion while alleviating pain. I frequently include tansy in my after dinner herbal liqueur, but don’t recommend it to anyone else. [HMH Duke]

Once used to preserve dead bodies from corruption, to prevent flies from landing on meat, and to discourage vermin. Used as a strewing herb.[DPL Watts]

Gout: Gypsies used a hot fomentation or an infusion to treat grout. In Scotland, the dried flowers were the part used.[DPL Watts]
Colds: Flower tea. [DPL Watts]
Fevers: Leaf tea. Also used for nervous afflictions. [DPL Watts]
Tonic: For all heart weaknesses, coughs and chest complaints. [DPL Watts]
Ague: A sprig was placed in boots to prevent ague. The oil from the flower heads is still applied topically to treat rheumatism and the flowers are made into a poultice for sprains. [DPL Watts]
Poultice: A bruised and moistened tansy poultice was used to relieve the pain from dog bites. In Ireland it's boiled in unsalted butter, strained and stored for later use on wounds.[DPL Watts]
Veterinary: The dried, powdered leaves were added to horse feed, now and then, to make the horses coats shine. For treating red water, the entire plant was boiled and poured down a cows throat.[DPL Watts]


Tansy Oil: The thujone-type oil is antimicrobial, anthelmintic, and repellent to various insects.[PDR]

Abortifacient (1; CRC; PHR; PH2);[HMH Duke]
Analgesic (1; APA; CAN);[HMH Duke]
Anthelmintic. - Young tops & Seed[DPL Watts]
Antibacterial (1; APA; TAD);[HMH Duke]
Antiedemic (f; PH2);[HMH Duke]
Antiencephalitic (1; APA);[HMH Duke]
Antifeedant (1; HH3);[HMH Duke]
Antiseptic (1; DEM; FNF; HH3; PH2);[HMH Duke]

Antispasmodic (1; APA; CAN; MAD);[HMH Duke]
Antitumor (1; APA; CAN; CRC);[HMH Duke]
Antiulcer (1; PH2);[HMH Duke]
Antiviral (1; APA);[HMH Duke]
Aperitif (1; APA; CAN; MAD);[HMH Duke]

Ascaricide (1; CRC; WOI);[HMH Duke]
Bitter (1; PNC);[HMH Duke]
Carminative (f; CAN);[HMH Duke]
Choleretic (1; APA; CAN);[HMH Duke]
Contraceptive (f; DEM);[HMH Duke]
Dermatitigenic (1; APA);[HMH Duke]
Diaphoretic (f; CRC; DEM);[HMH Duke]
Digestive (1; CAN);[HMH Duke]
Emmenagogue (1; APA; PNC); [HMH Duke]

Enterotonic (1; CAN);[HMH Duke]
Fungicide (1; APA; TAD);[HMH Duke]
Hypocholesterolemic (1; CAN); [HMH Duke]
Immunostimulant (1; APA);[HMH Duke]
Insecticide (1; CRC);[HMH Duke][DPL Watts]
Insectifuge (1; APA; PH2; TAD); [HMH Duke]

Lipolytic (f; APA); [HMH Duke]
Narcotic (f; CRC); [HMH Duke]
Nephrotonic (f; GMH); [HMH Duke]
Nervine (f; CRC);[HMH Duke]
Pain (1; APA; CAN);[HMH Duke]
Phototoxic (1; PH2);[HMH Duke]
Pulicide (f; CRC);[HMH Duke]
Sedative (f; CRC); [HMH Duke]
Stimulant (f; CRC);[HMH Duke]
Stomachic (f; CRC; MAD);[HMH Duke]
Swelling (f; PH2);[HMH Duke]
Tonic (1; DEM; PNC); [HMH Duke]
Uterotonic (1; AHP); [HMH Duke]
Vermifuge (1; APA; CRC; PHR; PH2);[HMH Duke]

Vulnerary (f; CRC).[HMH Duke]



Tansy Flower & Herb
Volatile oil "(0.5 to 0.9% in the foliage, 0.8 to 1.8% in the blossoms): constituents of the volatile oil vary greatly according to variety. The following could appear as main constituents:" [PDR]

Tansy Oil
"Constituents of the volatile oil vary greatly according to variety. The following could appear as chief constituents: artemisia ketone, (-Hhujone, (+)-isothujone, 1,8-cineole, alpha-pinene, alpha-terpinyl acetate, borneol, bornyl acetate, davanone, germacrene D, L-camphor (+) umbellulone, L-.camphor, lyratol (+) lyratol acetate, piperitone, sabinene, thuj-4-en-2-ylacetate (+) trans-carvyl acetate, trans-chrysanthenol (+) trans-chrysanthenyl acetate, umbellulone, among others. Hybrid varieties exist."[PDR]


Cultivation: "Succeeds in an ordinary garden soil[1]. Plants thrive in almost any soil[4]. 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[4, 14]. There are some named varieties[238]. 'Fernleaf' is a more decorative compact form to about 75cm, it does not spread so quickly. A good plant to grow in the orchard, when grown under fruit trees, raspberries, roses etc it repels insects from them[201]."[PFAF]


"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."[PFAF]


Page last modified on Sunday, January 2, 2022 6:44 AM