Open the Advanced Search


Tanacetum vulgare

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
For more information please download the BSBI Code of Conduct PDF document.


Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Asteraceae (Daisy)
Also in this family:
Alpine Blue Sow-thistle, Alpine Cotula, Alpine Fleabane, Alpine Saw-wort, Annual Ragweed, Annual Sunflower, Argentine Fleabane, Autumn Hawkbit, Autumn Oxeye, Beaked Hawksbeard, Beggarticks, Bilbao Fleabane, Black Knapweed, Black-eyed Susan, Blanketflower, Blue Fleabane, Blue Globe-thistle, Bristly Oxtongue, Broad-leaved Cudweed, Broad-leaved Ragwort, Brown Knapweed, Butterbur, Buttonweed, Cabbage Thistle, Canadian Fleabane, Canadian Goldenrod, Carline Thistle, Chalk Knapweed, Chamois Ragwort, Changing Michaelmas Daisy, Chicory, Chinese Mugwort, Chinese Ragwort, Coltsfoot, Common Blue Sow-thistle, Common Cat's-ear, Common Cudweed, Common Daisy, Common Dandelion, Common Fleabane, Common Goldenrod, Common Groundsel, Common Michaelmas Daisy, Common Mugwort, Common Ragwort, Common Wormwood, Coneflower, Confused Michaelmas Daisy, Corn Chamomile, Corn Marigold, Cornflower, Cotton Thistle, Cottonweed, Creeping Thistle, Daisy Bush, Dwarf Cudweed, Dwarf Thistle, Early Goldenrod, Eastern Groundsel, Eastern Leopardsbane, Elecampane, English Hawkweed, Fen Ragwort, Feverfew, Field Fleawort, Field Wormwood, Fox and Cubs, French Tarragon, Gallant Soldier, Garden Lettuce, Giant Butterbur, Glabrous-headed Hawkweed, Glandular Globe-thistle, Glaucous Michaelmas Daisy, Globe Artichoke, Globe-thistle, Goat's Beard, Golden Ragwort, Golden Samphire, Goldilocks Aster, Grass-leaved Goldenrod, Great Lettuce, Greater Burdock, Greater Knapweed, Grey-headed Hawkweed, Guernsey Fleabane, Hairless Blue Sow-thistle, Hairless Leptinella, Hairy Michaelmas Daisy, Harpur Crewe's Leopardsbane, Hawkweed Oxtongue, Heath Cudweed, Heath Groundsel, Hemp Agrimony, Highland Cudweed, Hoary Mugwort, Hoary Ragwort, Hybrid Knapweed, Intermediate Burdock, Irish Fleabane, Jersey Cudweed, Jerusalem Artichoke, Lance-leaved Hawkweed, Lavender-cotton, Leafless Hawksbeard, Least Lettuce, Leopardplant, Leopardsbane, Leptinella, Lesser Burdock, Lesser Hawkbit, Lesser Sunflower, London Bur-marigold, Magellan Ragwort, Marsh Cudweed, Marsh Hawksbeard, Marsh Ragwort, Marsh Sow-thistle, Marsh Thistle, Meadow Thistle, Melancholy Thistle, Mexican Fleabane, Milk Thistle, Mountain Everlasting, Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Musk Thistle, Narrow-leaved Cudweed, Narrow-leaved Hawkweed, Narrow-leaved Michaelmas Daisy, Narrow-leaved Ragwort, New England Hawkweed, New Zealand Holly, Nipplewort, Nodding Bur-marigold, Northern Hawksbeard, Norwegian Mugwort, Oxeye Daisy, Oxford Ragwort, Pearly Everlasting, Perennial Cornflower, Perennial Ragweed, Perennial Sow-thistle, Perennial Sunflower, Pineapple Mayweed, Plantain-leaved Leopardsbane, Ploughman's Spikenard, Plymouth Thistle, Pontic Blue Sow-thistle, Pot Marigold, Prickly Lettuce, Prickly Sow-thistle, Purple Coltsfoot, Rayed Tansy, Red Star Thistle, Red-seeded Dandelion, Red-tipped Cudweed, Robin's Plantain, Roman Chamomile, Rough Cocklebur, Rough Hawkbit, Rough Hawksbeard, Russian Lettuce, Safflower, Salsify, Saw-wort, Scented Mayweed, Scentless Mayweed, Sea Aster, Sea Mayweed, Sea Wormwood, Seaside Daisy, Shaggy Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shaggy Soldier, Shasta Daisy, Shetland Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Shrub Ragwort, Sicilian Chamomile, Silver Ragwort, Slender Mugwort, Slender Thistle, Small Cudweed, Small Fleabane, Smooth Cat's-ear, Smooth Hawksbeard, Smooth Sow-thistle, Sneezeweed, Sneezewort, Spear Thistle, Spotted Cat's-ear, Spotted Hawkweed, Sticky Groundsel, Stinking Chamomile, Stinking Hawksbeard, Tall Fleabane, Tall Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Thin-leaved Sunflower, Trifid Bur-marigold, Tuberous Thistle, Tyneside Leopardplant, Viper's Grass, Wall Lettuce, Welsh Groundsel, Welted Thistle, White Butterbur, White Buttons, Willdenow's Leopardsbane, Winter Heliotrope, Wood Burdock, Wood Ragwort, Woody Fleabane, Woolly Thistle, Yarrow, Yellow Chamomile, Yellow Fox and Cubs, Yellow Oxeye, Yellow Star Thistle, Yellow Thistle, York Groundsel
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
90 centimetres tall
Cliffs, ditches, fields, gardens, grassland, hedgerows, meadows, mountains, riverbanks, roadsides, rocky places, sea cliffs, seaside, towns, wasteland, waterside, wetland, woodland.

Yellow, no petals
Tansy is characterized by its button-like, bright yellow flowers. Each flower head is composed of numerous tiny, disk florets tightly packed in a convex cluster, forming a dense and visually striking inflorescence. The flowers are typically arranged in flat-topped clusters, creating an umbrella-like appearance at the top of sturdy stems. The petals of the individual florets are tubular, and the central disk florets give the flower head its distinctive color. The foliage is finely divided, featuring fern-like, aromatic leaves. Tansy's flowers are not only visually appealing but also contribute to its historical uses, including ornamental and medicinal applications. The plant's overall appearance adds a touch of vibrancy to the landscape during its blooming season.
Tansy produces small, dry fruits known as achenes. The achenes are typically dark brown or black and are dispersed when the plant's flowers mature and release their seeds. These small, one-seeded fruits are often lightweight, allowing for easy wind dispersal. Tansy's achenes are formed within the flower heads after successful pollination. The plant's reproductive cycle culminates in the release of these tiny fruits, contributing to the species' ability to spread and establish itself in various habitats. While the flowers are more prominent in Tansy's visual appeal, the fruits play a crucial role in the plant's reproductive strategy.
Tansy has fern-like leaves that are deeply divided, giving them a lacy or feathery appearance. The leaves are arranged alternately along the stems and are typically dark green in color. Each leaf is composed of numerous small, linear to lance-shaped leaflets, creating a finely dissected texture. The aromatic quality of Tansy leaves contributes to the overall sensory experience when handling the plant. The leaves contain essential oils that release a strong, distinct scent, adding to Tansy's charm. The finely divided foliage not only enhances the plant's ornamental appeal but also plays a role in traditional and historical uses, including medicinal applications.
Tansy is renowned for its strong and distinctive aroma. The leaves of the plant, when crushed or bruised, release a pungent scent that is often described as a mix of camphor and rosemary. This aromatic quality contributes to Tansy's historical uses, including its role as a natural insect repellent and its incorporation into perfumery. The intense fragrance adds to the sensory experience when encountering Tansy, making it a notable characteristic of this herbaceous plant.
Other Names:
Arbor Vitae, Bachelor's Buttons, Bitter-buttons, Common Tansy, Cow Bitter, Garden Tansy, Ginger Plant, Golden Buttons, Gold-leaf Tansy, Hineheel, Parsley Fern, Scented Fern, Staggerwort, Stinking Willie, Wild Tansy, Yellow Buttons.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Other Information


Tanacetum vulgare, commonly known as common tansy, is a perennial herb native to Europe and Asia. It can grow up to 5 feet tall and has yellow, button-like flowers that bloom from July to September. The leaves of T. vulgare are finely divided and fern-like, and they have a strong, pungent aroma. The plant has a long history of medicinal use, and it has been traditionally used to treat a variety of ailments such as fever, digestive disorders, and skin conditions. It is also known to be toxic to livestock and humans if consumed in large amounts. Despite its toxic nature, it is sometimes used as a culinary herb, although it should be used in small amounts and with caution.


Tansy, also known as Tanacetum vulgare, is a flowering plant species belonging to the aster family. It is a herbaceous perennial plant that is native to Europe and Asia, but can also be found in other parts of the world, including North America. The plant is known for its vibrant yellow flowers and its strong, pungent odor.

Tansy has a long history of use in traditional medicine and has been used for a variety of purposes over the centuries. It was once used to ward off evil spirits and was even considered a protection against the bubonic plague. In medieval times, tansy was used as a cure for digestive problems, such as indigestion and constipation, and was also used as a remedy for various skin conditions.

Despite its long history of use, tansy is now considered to be toxic, and its use as a medicinal herb is not recommended. The plant contains several toxic compounds, including thujone, which can cause convulsions, tremors, and even death in large doses. As a result, tansy should only be used under the guidance of a qualified health professional.

In addition to its medicinal properties, tansy is also commonly used in cosmetics and perfumes, as it is known for its strong, pungent odor. The plant is also used as a natural insecticide, as it is toxic to many types of insects, including ants, fleas, and mosquitoes.

Tansy is an attractive plant that is easy to grow, and it is often used in gardens and landscaping. The plant grows to a height of 1-2 feet, and its bright yellow flowers bloom from July to September. It prefers full sun to partial shade, and it should be planted in well-drained soil.

Tansy is a fascinating plant with a rich history of use in traditional medicine and cosmetics. While its use as a medicinal herb is not recommended due to its toxic nature, tansy is still a useful and attractive addition to any garden. Just be sure to handle it with care, as its toxic properties can pose a serious health risk if not used properly.

Tansy is also considered a useful plant in the field of natural pest control. When planted in the garden, it can help to repel many common garden pests, including aphids, squash bugs, and some species of caterpillars. The plant's strong odor is thought to be the key to its pest-repelling properties, as many insects find the smell to be offensive and will avoid the area.

In addition to its insect-repelling properties, tansy is also a valuable source of nectar for a variety of pollinators, including bees, butterflies, and moths. This makes it a great plant to include in a pollinator garden, and its bright yellow flowers are sure to attract a wide range of pollinators.

The plant is also commonly used in traditional folk medicine as a diuretic and to stimulate the menstrual flow. Tansy tea has also been used to treat various skin conditions, including acne, eczema, and psoriasis. However, as mentioned before, due to its toxic nature, it is important to consult with a qualified health professional before using tansy for medicinal purposes.

Another interesting fact about tansy is that its leaves were once used to stuff mattresses, as it was believed to ward off bedbugs and other pests. The plant's strong odor was thought to keep the bedbugs at bay, and its leaves were used as a natural pest-control method long before chemical insecticides were invented.

Tansy is a versatile plant with a long history of use in traditional medicine, cosmetics, and pest control. While it is toxic and should be handled with care, it is a valuable addition to any garden, both for its bright yellow flowers and its ability to repel pests. Whether you are a gardener, a naturalist, or a history buff, tansy is a plant that is sure to capture your interest.

Tansy is also known for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. The plant's essential oil contains compounds that have been shown to have antimicrobial effects against various bacterial and fungal species. This makes tansy a valuable ingredient in natural cleaning products and skin care products, as it can help to keep surfaces and skin free from harmful bacteria and fungi.

The plant's anti-inflammatory properties have also been studied, and it has been shown to have a mild pain-relieving effect. This makes it a useful ingredient in natural pain-relief products, such as balms and salves.

Tansy is also a source of several essential nutrients, including vitamins A and C, calcium, and iron. While it is not recommended to consume large quantities of the plant due to its toxic nature, small amounts of tansy can be added to salads or used as a garnish in cooking.

Tansy is easy to grow from seed, and it can also be propagated through root division. It is a hardy plant that is well-suited to a wide range of growing conditions, and it is not susceptible to many common plant diseases.

Tansy is a plant with a rich history of use in traditional medicine, cosmetics, and pest control. Its bright yellow flowers and strong, pungent odor make it a valuable addition to any garden, while its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties make it a useful ingredient in natural health and beauty products. If you are interested in growing tansy, be sure to handle it with care, as its toxic nature can pose a serious health risk if not used properly.

Tansy is also used in some traditional cultures for spiritual purposes. The plant is associated with protection and purification, and it has been used in rituals and ceremonies to ward off evil spirits and negative energy. In some cultures, tansy is burned as incense or added to bathwater to promote mental clarity and physical wellness.

In the Middle Ages, tansy was also used in Europe as a symbol of purity and was often used in funeral wreaths and garlands. The plant's bright yellow flowers were thought to symbolize the renewal of life, and its strong odor was believed to have purifying properties.

Despite its toxic nature, tansy has a long history of use in traditional medicine, cosmetics, and household products. From insect repellent to spiritual incense, this versatile plant has played a role in many different aspects of human culture and continues to be used in a variety of ways to this day.

In conclusion, tansy is a plant with a rich cultural history and a wide range of uses, from natural pest control to spiritual purification. While it is important to handle it with care due to its toxic nature, tansy is a valuable plant to have in your garden, whether for its bright yellow flowers, its ability to repel pests, or its role in traditional spiritual practices. Whether you are a gardener, a naturalist, or simply interested in the cultural significance of plants, tansy is a fascinating and valuable plant to study and appreciate.

30 Facts About Tansy

  1. Botanical Beauty: Tansy, scientifically known as Tanacetum vulgare, is a herbaceous perennial plant renowned for its vibrant yellow button-like flowers.

  2. Aromatic Delight: Tansy emits a distinctive, strong scent that is often described as a mix of camphor and rosemary.

  3. Culinary Uses: In history, tansy was used in cooking, adding a bitter flavor to certain dishes and beverages. However, its culinary use has diminished due to potential toxicity.

  4. Medicinal Heritage: Traditionally, tansy was used for medicinal purposes, believed to aid in treating digestive issues, fevers, and even as a vermifuge to expel intestinal worms.

  5. Natural Insect Repellent: Tansy contains compounds like thujone, which make it a natural insect repellent. It has been used to deter pests and insects in gardens.

  6. Historical Use in Embalming: Ancient Egyptians used tansy as part of the embalming process due to its aromatic properties and presumed ability to deter insects.

  7. Folklore and Magic: Tansy has a rich history in folklore, associated with rituals, protection, and superstitions. It was often planted near homes for its supposed magical properties.

  8. Hardy Perennial: Tansy is a hardy plant that can thrive in various soil conditions, making it a resilient addition to gardens.

  9. Invasive Potential: While valued in gardens, tansy can be invasive in certain regions, spreading rapidly and outcompeting native vegetation.

  10. Yellow Dye: The flowers of tansy can be used to produce a yellow dye, which has been historically utilized for coloring textiles.

  11. Biological Pest Control: Tansy is known to repel certain pests and can be strategically planted to protect other crops from insect damage.

  12. Herbal Tea: Tansy leaves were historically used to make herbal tea, believed to have various health benefits, although caution is advised due to its potential toxicity.

  13. Symbolism in Art: Tansy has appeared in various artworks and paintings, symbolizing different qualities such as resilience, strength, and beauty.

  14. Cosmetic Uses: Extracts from tansy have been incorporated into cosmetic products for their aromatic properties and potential skin benefits.

  15. Traditional Easter Herb: Tansy has been associated with Easter traditions, used in some cultures as a symbolic herb during the holiday.

  16. Repelling Moths: Dried tansy leaves were historically used to repel moths from stored clothing, linens, and other textiles.

  17. Pollinator Attraction: Tansy flowers attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, contributing to biodiversity in gardens.

  18. Companion Planting: Tansy is sometimes used in companion planting to deter certain pests and enhance the growth of neighboring plants.

  19. Literary Mentions: Tansy is mentioned in various literary works, including Shakespeare's plays, adding to its cultural significance.

  20. Anti-inflammatory Properties: Some studies suggest that tansy may possess anti-inflammatory properties, although more research is needed to validate its medicinal potential.

  21. Perfume Ingredient: Tansy's aromatic qualities have led to its use in perfumery, adding unique notes to fragrance compositions.

  22. Historical Medicine for Women: Tansy was historically associated with women's health and used to address menstrual issues, although this usage has largely fallen out of favor.

  23. Traditional Vermifuge: Tansy was employed as a vermifuge in traditional medicine, believed to expel intestinal parasites.

  24. Cultural Symbolism: In certain cultures, tansy symbolizes immortality and was used in funeral rites to represent the idea of eternal life.

  25. Larval Host Plant: Tansy serves as a host plant for the larvae of certain butterflies, contributing to the life cycle of these insects.

  26. Folk Remedies for Bruises: In folk medicine, tansy was applied topically to bruises and sprains for its purported anti-inflammatory effects.

  27. Insecticidal Properties: Tansy has been explored for its potential as a natural insecticide, with some studies investigating its effectiveness against agricultural pests.

  28. Tansy Beer: Historical recipes include the use of tansy in brewing beer, providing a unique flavor to the beverage.

  29. Antifungal Potential: Tansy extracts have demonstrated antifungal properties in some studies, suggesting potential applications in natural antifungal remedies.

  30. Symbol of Resistance: In certain cultures, tansy is seen as a symbol of resistance and endurance, reflecting its ability to thrive in challenging conditions.


Tansy filmed at the following locations:
  • Adlington, Lancashire (at the Leeds and Liverpool Canal): 11th July 2023
  • Marshside, Southport, Lancashire: 15th July 2023

Please remember to Like and Subscribe to the WildFlowerWeb YouTube channel at

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

Click to open an Interactive Map