Common Tansy – Tanacetum Vulgare
Tansy is a perennial; it spreads easily and can be quite invasive if you do not keep it under control.
The plant can grow up to 1 meter (3 feet). It is native to Europe, but is quite established in North America as well.
Tansy is not a common cooking herb anymore. It is a very bitter herb. The leaves are edible and were used in some Easter dishes.
There is an old British dessert called Tansy. Tansy in pudding was served in England during Lent. If you must taste this plant be sure to use only small amounts.
Tansy as a cooking herb is no longer advisable.
Tansy is a good insecticide. You can grow the plants in some pots and place them outside close to your entrance. That will help keep mosquitos and flies away.
The flowers are advantageous and a nice ornament that brightens up the area around the entrance.
Dried flowers make wonderful ornaments indoors. They also serve the purpose of helping keep ants and bugs away.
Pregnant women must never use tansy. It can provoke a miscarriage. Women trying to get pregnant and mothers who are nursing their infants must also never eat or drink tansy.
There have been reports of pregnant women dying a painful death after drinking strong tansy tea. Tansy tea is not recommended for anyone.
Tansy was used as a medicinal herb in medieval times. It was used to expel worms and aid digestion during the 12th century. This is not recommended anymore.
The oil contains a substance called thujone. Thujone is known to be toxic.
Tansy in Folklore and History
Tansy was used to preserve meat before refrigerators were common.
Each layer of meat would be covered with the leaves to prevent insects from gaining access to the meat.
In Ancient Greece a corpse would be wrapped in tansy leaves to preserve the body until it was time for the burial.
In medieval times it was a common strewing herb. It covered the floors in many homes before carpets were introduced as an alternative to strewing herbs.
Tansy was also called “Bible leaf”. It was not uncommon to use the leaves as bookmarks in the Bible.
The leaves exposed a mint-like scent when the reader opened the Bible.
An old superstition claimed that putting a tansy flower in your shoe would ensure a safe journey.
It was known as the “fairy button”. The flower was believed to be a favorite dwelling for the fairies.