Tansy (Chrysanthemum or Tanacetum vulgare; Compositae)


A hardy herbaceous perennial to 2 ft (60 cm), with toothed leaves cut almost pinnately, up to 5 in. (12 cm) long, and small, flat, heads of yellow flowers from July-September. Origin, Europe, native to this country. There is a curled leaved form.


The leaves are strongly aromatic, rather like camphor, and can be used in the same way that mint is with roast lamb; they have many other culinary uses. Tansy tea was used for colds and rheumatism, and a distillation of the leaves is said to be good for the complexion, removing freckles and sunburn.


The common name comes from athanasia, or immortality, so it must originally have been thought to have much medicinal virtue. Tansy puddings were very popular in Elizabethan days, but might be considered very bitter now. However, an old recipe for this includes brandy and syrup of roses, so it is possible that it might be palatable!


Easily grown, as would be expected of a native plant; any soil and situation will suit it. Division of the plant

in spring is the usual method of increase, putting each piece 1 ft (30 cm) apart. It needs controlling, otherwise spread is rapid.