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Tansy-leaved Phacelia

Phacelia tanacetifolia

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Boraginaceae (Borage)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
120 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, meadows, roadsides, wasteland.

Blue, 5 petals
Coiled terminal spikes of lavender blue or mauve, bell-shaped flowers. Flowers each measure from 6 to 10mm in diameter. Long, whiskered, blue stamens. Pollinated by bees. Frequently sown with grass seed mixtures.
The fruit of Tansy-leaved Phacelia is a capsule containing small seeds. The capsule is typically dry and splits open when mature, releasing the seeds. The seeds are small and are often dispersed by the wind, allowing the plant to spread and colonize new areas. The fruit is not typically a significant feature in terms of culinary or commercial use, and the plant is more commonly appreciated for its flowers and ecological contributions. The seeds ripen in August and September.
A deciduous plant in leaf from May to September. Greyish-green, fern-like, pinnately lobed leaves, up to 20cm long. The leaves are lacy in appearance, hence the alternative name of Lacy Phacelia. Annual.
Tansy-leaved Phacelia is not particularly renowned for its fragrance. While it may emit a mild and pleasant scent, it is not typically grown or appreciated for its aromatic qualities. The plant is more valued for its vibrant appearance, ecological benefits, and potential medicinal properties rather than its fragrance.
Other Names:
Bee Phacelia, Blue Tansy, Fiddleneck, Lacy Phacelia, Lacy Scorpion-weed, Purple Tansy, Tansy Phacelia.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Phacelia tanacetifolia, commonly known as lacy phacelia or tansy-leaved phacelia, is a species of annual flowering plant in the Boraginaceae family. It is native to western North America and can be found in habitats such as meadows, roadsides, and disturbed areas. The plant has deeply lobed leaves and small, blue to purple, five-petaled flowers that grow in clusters. The plant is known for its attractive flowers and is sometimes used in wildflower gardens and as a cover crop. It is also known to be an attractive plant for pollinators and beneficial insects. It is not known to have any medicinal use but is known for its ornamental value.


Phacelia tanacetifolia, commonly known as Tansy-leaved Phacelia, is a beautiful and versatile flowering plant native to North America. With its delicate, lavender-blue flowers and fern-like foliage, it is a popular choice for gardeners and farmers alike.

Tansy-leaved Phacelia is a member of the borage family and is known for its attractive, deep green leaves that are reminiscent of tansy (hence the name). The plant typically grows to be about two feet tall and blooms in the late spring or early summer, producing clusters of trumpet-shaped flowers that can range in color from light blue to deep purple.

One of the reasons why Tansy-leaved Phacelia is so popular is that it is an excellent source of nectar for bees and other pollinators. The flowers are rich in nectar and are especially attractive to honeybees, making it a popular choice for beekeepers looking to boost their hives' productivity.

In addition to its ornamental value and pollinator-friendly properties, Tansy-leaved Phacelia is also an excellent cover crop. Its deep roots help to break up compacted soil and improve soil structure, while the plant's lush foliage helps to suppress weeds and retain moisture in the soil.

Tansy-leaved Phacelia is also known for its ability to attract beneficial insects such as ladybugs and lacewings, which can help to control pests in the garden. Additionally, the plant's foliage can be used as a green manure, adding valuable nutrients to the soil when it is turned under.

Tansy-leaved Phacelia is a hardy and easy-to-grow plant that can thrive in a variety of soil types and conditions. It prefers well-draining soil and full sun to partial shade, but can also tolerate some drought conditions once established.

In the garden, Tansy-leaved Phacelia can be grown as an annual or perennial plant, depending on the climate and growing conditions. It is typically grown from seed, which can be sown directly in the ground in the spring or fall.

One of the benefits of Tansy-leaved Phacelia is that it is relatively low-maintenance. It does not require a lot of water or fertilizer, and can be left to grow wild without much intervention. However, if you are growing it as a cover crop or green manure, it is recommended to mow or till the plants into the soil before they set seed, to prevent self-seeding and potential weed problems.

Tansy-leaved Phacelia is also a popular plant for use in wildflower meadows and naturalized landscapes. Its attractive flowers and foliage can add a pop of color and texture to any outdoor space, while also providing valuable ecological benefits.

In terms of harvesting, Tansy-leaved Phacelia is primarily grown for its flowers, which can be cut and used in floral arrangements or left on the plant to attract pollinators. The leaves and stems can also be used in herbal teas and tinctures, although it is important to note that the plant contains alkaloids that can be toxic in high doses.

Tansy-leaved Phacelia has been used for medicinal purposes by Native American tribes for centuries. The plant was traditionally used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory infections, digestive issues, and skin conditions.

Today, Tansy-leaved Phacelia is still used in some herbal medicine practices, although it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before using it for any medicinal purposes.

In addition to its medicinal properties, Tansy-leaved Phacelia is also a popular plant for use in conservation efforts. Its ability to attract pollinators and beneficial insects makes it an ideal choice for habitat restoration projects, and it is often included in seed mixes for prairie and grassland restoration.

Tansy-leaved Phacelia is also a great option for gardeners who want to incorporate native plants into their landscapes. As a native plant to North America, it is well-suited to local growing conditions and can help support local ecosystems.

In addition to its ecological benefits, Tansy-leaved Phacelia is also a visually stunning plant that can add a pop of color and texture to any garden or landscape. Its delicate flowers and fern-like foliage make it a popular choice for cottage gardens, wildflower meadows, and naturalized landscapes.

If you are interested in growing Tansy-leaved Phacelia in your garden, it is important to source seeds from a reputable supplier that offers organic, non-GMO seeds. This will ensure that you are getting high-quality seeds that will grow into healthy plants.

Overall, Tansy-leaved Phacelia is a valuable and versatile plant that has a lot to offer gardeners, farmers, and conservationists. Whether you are looking to attract pollinators, improve soil health, or add beauty to your landscape, this lovely plant is an excellent choice.

30 Facts About the Tansy-leaved Phacelia

  1. Scientific Name: The Tansy-leaved Phacelia is scientifically known as Phacelia tanacetifolia.

  2. Family Affiliation: It belongs to the Hydrophyllaceae family.

  3. Origin: Native to western North America, it is found in regions from British Columbia to California.

  4. Common Names: Other common names include Lacy Phacelia, Purple Tansy, and Blue Tansy.

  5. Appearance: The plant features delicate, fern-like leaves with a distinctive lacy appearance.

  6. Flower Characteristics: Tansy-leaved Phacelia produces vibrant purple to blue flowers, creating a visually striking contrast with its foliage.

  7. Attracts Pollinators: Its flowers attract a variety of pollinators, including bees and butterflies, contributing to ecosystem biodiversity.

  8. Soil Preferences: Thrives in well-drained soils and is often found in disturbed areas, making it adaptable to different environments.

  9. Cultural Uses: Some Native American tribes historically used Tansy-leaved Phacelia for medicinal purposes, although caution is advised due to potential toxicity.

  10. Quick Growth: Known for its rapid growth, Tansy-leaved Phacelia is often used as a cover crop to prevent soil erosion.

  11. Beneficial for Bees: The plant is a popular choice for bee-friendly gardens, supporting the health and diversity of local bee populations.

  12. Edible Flowers: While not commonly consumed, the flowers are edible and can be added to salads for a touch of color.

  13. Seed Production: Tansy-leaved Phacelia is an efficient seed producer, contributing to its ability to colonize disturbed areas.

  14. Drought Tolerance: Exhibits a degree of drought tolerance, making it well-suited to arid and semi-arid climates.

  15. Self-Seeding: Due to its prolific seed production, the plant has a tendency to self-seed and spread, creating beautiful natural displays.

  16. Landscape Ornamental: Beyond its ecological benefits, the plant is often cultivated for its ornamental value in gardens and landscapes.

  17. Adaptive Root System: Its root system helps improve soil structure, making it a valuable component in soil conservation efforts.

  18. Phytoremediation Potential: Tansy-leaved Phacelia has been explored for its potential to absorb heavy metals from contaminated soils, a process known as phytoremediation.

  19. Seasonal Blooms: Typically, it blooms in late spring to early summer, painting landscapes with its vibrant hues.

  20. Attracts Hoverflies: Apart from bees, the plant is known to attract hoverflies, which are beneficial predators in gardens.

  21. Companion Planting: Farmers and gardeners often use Tansy-leaved Phacelia as a companion plant to enhance the health and productivity of nearby crops.

  22. Culinary Oils: The seeds contain oils that have been explored for their potential culinary and industrial applications.

  23. Medicinal Properties: Some traditional herbal medicine practices use Tansy-leaved Phacelia for its purported anti-inflammatory properties.

  24. Deer Resistance: The plant is often deer-resistant, making it a suitable choice for landscapes where deer may be a concern.

  25. Mycorrhizal Associations: It can form beneficial mycorrhizal associations with fungi, aiding in nutrient absorption.

  26. Conservation Efforts: Tansy-leaved Phacelia is sometimes included in habitat restoration projects to reintroduce native flora.

  27. Seed Dispersal: The seeds are dispersed by wind and may travel considerable distances.

  28. Cultural Significance: Some indigenous cultures associate the plant with specific cultural or spiritual significance.

  29. Fragrance: While not as renowned for fragrance as some other plants, Tansy-leaved Phacelia may emit a mild, pleasant scent.

  30. Botanical Illustrations: The plant's unique appearance has made it a subject of interest in botanical illustrations and artwork.


Tansy-leaved Phacelia filmed in Horwich, Lancashire on the 20th August 2023.


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Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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