Plant of the Month: Common Tansy (Tancetum vulgare)

Common tansy (Tancetum vulgare) is also referred to as bitter buttons, garden tansy, cow bitter, and golden buttons. It is native to Europe and Asia, but was introduced to North America in the 1600s for its medicinal uses. It is currently used to treat colds and flus, and as an insect repellent (specifically for mosquitoes and Colorado potato beetles). It has also been used for embalming bodies or packing perishable items as it contains a compound with antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Historically, its medicinal uses include aiding in digestive problems, intestinal worms, and causing abortions within cattle. However, it contains toxic alkaloids and consuming too much tansy can cause illnesses or death in humans and in wildlife. It has also been reported to make the milk of cattle taste bad if consumed by them.

Tansy is commonly found in disturbed areas, like roadsides and pastures, of temperate regions of North America and is pollinated by flies, butterflies and honeybees. This plant is a perennial herb found within the sunflower family, (Asteraceae). It has yellow, button shaped flowers that grow in clusters at the ends of purplish-red stems. Its leaves are serrated and divided with sharp edges, making them fern-like. Additionally, the leaves are dark green and occur in an alternate pattern on the stem. The common tansy is considered an invasive weed as it competes with other plants for water and nutrients, and spreads through creeping rhizomes (horizontal stems). The seeds of the common tansy can remain viable for up to 25 years so preventing it from becoming established is the easiest way to deal with it. However, it can also be dealt with through mowing or herbicide use.

The common tansy is commonly confused with tansy ragwort (Jacobaea vulgaris), which is poisonous and is also considered a weed. Tansy ragwort is differentiated from common tansy as it has yellow flower petals and lacks the sharp tooth leaves. Instead of planting the common tansy, you could try planting the dune tansy (Tanacetum bipinnatum), a similar species that is native to Alberta, or yarrow (Achillea sp.), which has a similar smell to tansy and also has many medicinal properties.

Many yellow tansy flowers, pictured from above

Posted on 10 de julho de 2024, 01:06 AM by kiarra13 kiarra13

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