TANSY (Tanacetum vulgare) is a British native that has naturalized across the pond here in America. It has a long history of various uses that are quite fascinating (see below). An herbaceous aromatic with fern-like leaves and golden yellow button flowers that grow in clusters and bloom from July to September, Tansy will reach 2-3 feet high and is a pretty garden decorative. The fragrance is pleasant and refreshing, if somewhat medicinal - reminiscent of camphor (mothballs) and lemon. So it is not surprising that its most popular uses are pesticidal and preservative. Can cause contact dermatitis in sensitive individuals and it contains powerful compounds that can be extremely toxic, so don't use internally. My original seed came from England and is distinctly different from a later variety that has larger leaves. Cannot ship to WA, WY or ND. Perennial. 50 Seeds.
MEDICINAL: Tansy was grown by the ancient Greeks, noted in the herb garden of Charlemagne, and commonly found in the medicinal gardens of various monasteries of the Middle Ages. The fresh or dried flowering stems were used to expel round worms, to aid digestion, for fevers and healing sores (so it was especially favored for measles and pox). A note of caution, although discredited today, Tansy was used in large doses to induce abortion in Medaevil times. Of note, Tansy was also used to purify and lighten skin. Tansy is a component of some medicines in use today and is listed in the U.S. Pharmacopeia as a treatment for fevers, colds and jaundice. Most interesting is its historical use as a bug repellant and preservative, used for centuries as part of the embalming process and packed into coffins or as wreaths placed on the heads of the deceased. Wikipedia notes that the first president of Harvard was buried in 1668 with such a wreath in a tansy-packed coffin and when he was exhumed over 150 years later, the tansy was still largely intact, having mainted its shape and fragrance! It repels flies, ants, worms, and mosquitos. And recent studies show that when planted with potatoes, it reduced potato bug populations by 60-100%!
GROWING TIPS: Very easy to grow. Heat and drought tolerant. Start Tansy by direct seeding in the spring after all danger of frost. It is a light-dependant germinator so cover lightly. Usually germinates in 2-3 weeks at 65 degrees F. Thin to 6" apart. Once established, you can propagate by division in the fall.