Common Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)

Common Tansey (Tanacetum vulgare)

Common Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), also called Golden-buttons or Tansy, is a perennial forb/herb in the Aster Family (Asteraceae). The genus name is from the Greek for "immortality." The species name is Latin for "common." This plant is easily recognized because of its distinctive flowers and leaves. It is found only occasionally on Mount Desert Island but is found in open areas around French Hill Pond. The Common Tansy can grow to five feet (1.5 meters).

The flowers are simple, yellow disk flowers, ¼ to ½ inch (6 to 12 millimeters) in diameter in dense clusters of 20 to as many as 200 flower heads. Unlike most other Asters, the Common Tansy has no ray flowers. This plant flowers from July to October.

The leaves are pinnately lobed divided into four to ten, alternate pairs of toothed, linear lobes. One leaf is from four to eight inches (10 to 20 centimeters) long and about half as wide. They are aromatic because they contain camphor and similar volatile chemicals. The leaves and stems contain tanacetum, a chemical that is toxic to animals and humans in sufficient quantities.

Common Tansey (Tanacetum vulgare) Leaves

The fruit is a tufted seed that is dispersed by the wind.

The root system is rhizomic.

The Common Tansy can be invasive and is considered a prohibitive noxious weed in some states. The chemicals in this plant are used for medicinal purposes. Some of these chemicals are natural insect repellents. These plants were placed in coffins to repel insects, a use that repelled people from using them as decoration.


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