Tansy Golden Buttons Homemade Insect Repellent — Use That Herb
Tansy Golden Buttons Homemade Insect Repellent
- 1 Tansy Golden Buttons Homemade Insect Repellent
- 2 Tansy, Tanacetum vulgare – Weekly Weeder #43
- 3 Today’s featured plant is Tansy, Tanacetum vulgare.
- 4 Range and Identification of Tansy
- 5 Tansy as Wildlife Habitat
- 6 Tansy for Food and Medicine
- 7 Tansy as Insect Repellant and Organic Insecticide
- 8 Tansy Plant Info: Tips On Growing Tansy Herbs
- 9 Tansy Plant Info
- 10 How to Grow Tansy Herbs
- 11 Tansy Uses in the Garden
- 12 Tansy Essential Oil: 10 Benefits & Uses
- 12.1 1. Prevents Bacterial Infections
- 12.2 2. Protects Against Fungal Infections
- 12.3 3. Reduces Inflammation
- 12.4 4. Controls Allergic Reactions
- 12.5 5. Protects against Viral Diseases
- 12.6 6. Reduces Fevers
- 12.7 7. Deters Insects
- 12.8 8. Stimulates Secretion of Hormones
- 12.9 9. Relieves Nervous Afflictions
- 12.10 10. Kills Intestinal Worms
- 13 Old Farmer’s Almanac
- 14 Japanese Beetles
- 15 Share:
- 16 Identification
- 17 Control and Prevention
Tansy is a perennial herb, Tanacetum vulgare, and a member of the aster family, Asteraceae. Tansy is also called common tansy or garden tansy in order to differentiate it from similar looking plants.
Introduced from its native Europe and Asia, this herb has established itself in all parts of the United States except some of the warmest states, including Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and Texas. It requires temperate climates for successful growth. Where it does grow successfully tansy has become an aggressive weed in some cases. The states of Colorado, Montana, Washington and Wyoming have listed tansy as a noxious weed.
The alternate leaves are pinnately compound with finely toothed leaflets. The leaflets are long and narrow in shape giving the leaves a fern-like appearance. Each leaf has a dozen or more leaflets that are divided almost down to the leaf stem. The leaves are quite aromatic and bruising them releases a strong camphor-citrus odor. Tansy was popular as a strewing herb back in the day.
Tansy blooms are bright yellow composite flowers that appear quite round, which explains the reason for another nickname, ‘golden buttons’. The round appearance is due to the lack of ray flowers in this daisy-like blossom. The flowers appear in loose, flat-topped clusters at the tips of hairless stems during the latter part of the summer. The entire plant gets one to three feet tall and can be found growing along fence rows, in fields and waste areas, like roadsides and railways.
Essential oil obtained from steam distillation contains camphor, borneol and thujone. Thujone is toxic if ingested in large amounts. It is a chemical that is also present in wormwood, southernwood and sage. The young leaves were once used as a seasoning substitute for sage, but only in small quantities. People have died from consuming strong teas made with tansy, so take caution and do not ingest this herb.
The strong aroma of the leaves and flowers acts as an insect repellent. Herb and vegetable gardeners use tansy as a companion plant to drive away insects that would otherwise consume the harvest. A homemade insecticide can be made by steeping a handful of dried tansy flowers in a pail of hot water. After an hour or so pour the liquid into a labeled spray bottle and place the flowers under a bush to protect it from aphids. Spray the solution on garden plants and flowers that need protection from insect pests. Be sure to wash any edible plant materials that have been sprayed before consuming them.
Tansy, Tanacetum vulgare – Weekly Weeder #43
August 5, 2013 By Laurie Neverman 4 Comments
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Today’s featured plant is Tansy, Tanacetum vulgare.
Tansy is also known as Common Tansy, Wild Tansy, Gold Leaf Tansy, Stinking Willie, Bitter Buttons, Ginger Plant, Cow Bitter, Scented Fern (for the odor), Cheese (for the flowers), Mugwort, or Golden Buttons. (source 1 and 2) This is not the same plant as Artemisia vulgaris, Common Mugwort, or Tansy Ragwort, Senecio jacobaea.
It is in the Aster family (Asteraceae), which contains many other species, including the Weekly Weeder plants Ragweed, New England Aster, Ox-eye Daisy, Pineapple Weed, Yarrow, Heath Aster and Joe Pye Weed.
Range and Identification of Tansy
Tansy is native to Europe, but is now found around the world. In North America it ranges from the arctic circle to the deep south, except for the extreme south east U.S. and Texas (see map). It is listed by several states as a noxious weed.
Tansy prefers dry ground in full sun and disturbed soils. It is commonly found along roadsides. I took some of my photos near our hotel in Duluth and others at a campground in the Upper Peninsular of Michigan.
The plant is a perennial, growing 2-4′ (60-100 cm) in height. It often forms dense clumps of growth which display bright yellow blasts of color along the roadside.
Flowers are small, yellow and button-like. They look like the center of a daisy without any white petals. The flowers are composite, i.e. made up of many tiny flower heads. The little “buttons” are about 1/2″ across, and are borne at the top of the plant in clusters of many buttons. These flower clusters are several inches across. They bloom in summer and fall.
Leaves are simple lobed and fern-like. They are attached in an alternating pattern up the length of the stem. They range from 4 – 8″ (10 – 20 cm) long with many sharp teeth. The plant stem is smooth, not prickly.
The plant has a very distinctive, pungent odor when crushed, which has led to its use as a bitter tonic and pest repellent. The roots form a dense mat of shallow runners. Once established, it’s hard to get rid of (thus the noxious weed designation), so be careful about encouraging it where it might become a nuisance.
(See Wildflowers Of Wisconsin for more identification information.)
Tansy as Wildlife Habitat
When I was taking photos of the tansy blossoms, they were gently humming with a variety of bees and other insects, including the Asian lady beetle shown at the top of the post. They are popular with nectar and pollen feeders such as bees, butterflies and wasps, but their bitter taste keeps them largely safe from foliage eaters. They will give an “off” taste to milk if consumed by cattle or goats. In its native Europe it has more insect pests that do feed on the foliage.
Tansy for Food and Medicine
Caution: Tansy should only be used internally under the supervision of a trained herbalist. High doses have been known to cause miscarriage and even death. Tansy has been used historically for both food and medicine, however, it contains the toxic substance thujone which is dangerous in large doses. Mountain Rose Herbs also states that tansy may also cause “hallucinations, spasms and convulsions”. This is not one to mess around with casually.
The Holistic Herbal suggests the use of tansy as an effective dewormer for roundworm and threadworm. It also suggests the use of tansy as a digestive aid to ease stomach upset (as a bitter herb). At least one source states that the thujone is neutralized by cooking, but I’ve had difficulty finding other sources to corroborate this. Some people may experience sensitivity to topical use as well, but The Holistic Herbal mentions the use of a lotion made with the plant for treating scabies.
A Modern Herbal describes other historical uses, including the treatment of gout, a recipe for tansy cakes, and the use of tansy as a spice and flavoring.
As always, any medical information is for informational purposes only. Always exercise caution when using any wild plants and make sure you have positively identified the plant.
Tansy as Insect Repellant and Organic Insecticide
Historically, tansy was used for embalming, and was packed in coffins, tucked into funeral wraps and sometimes made into wreaths to adorn the dead.
Garden Stuff New Zealand lists tansy as an excellent companion plant in the garden:
Tansy is a good all-round bitter Insect repellent. It is great planted near Cabbages, Roses, Raspberries & Grapes. It concentrates Potassium in the soil, so benefits any plants nearby! Plant it for protection against Japanese Beetle, Striped Cucumber Beetle, Squash Bug, Cut Worms, Cabbage Worms, Ants, Flies, Mosquitoes & Fruit Moth. It is noticeably helpful under Peach Trees, which it assists greatly by warding off flying insects & keeping borers away.
During the American colonial period, meat was frequently rubbed with or packed in tansy leaves to repel insects and delay spoilage. Tansy was frequently worn at that time in shoes to prevent malaria and other fevers.
Tansy can be used as in companion planting, and for biological pest control in organic gardens and sustainable agriculture. It is planted alongside potatoes to repel the Colorado potato beetle, with one study finding tansy reduced the beetle population by 60 to 100%.
In England tansy is placed on window sills to repel flies; sprigs are placed in bed linen to drive away pests, and it has been used as an ant repellent.
In the 1940s, distilled tansy oil mixed with fleabane, pennyroyal and diluted alcohol was a well known mosquito repellent; collectors were paid five cents a pound for tansy in full bloom. Research has found that tansy extracts do indeed repel mosquitoes, but not as effectively as chemical pesticide products containing diethyltoluamide (i.e. DEET.) In 2008, researchers in Sweden investigated the use of tansy to repel ticks, showing a 64–72% repellency for each oil constituent.
Given that DEET has been linked to nerve damage, perhaps it’s time to give this Old School pest deterrent a fresh look.
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Mountain Rose Herbs stocks a wonderful variety of herbs and seeds, as well as prepared teas and other herbal products . They also carry an assortment of bottles, droppers and other supplies, plus some really soft organic cotton t-shirts. They are my go-to source for items I don’t grow myself, as well as one of my longest running affiliates.
Tansy Plant Info: Tips On Growing Tansy Herbs
Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) is a European perennial herb that was once used heavily in natural medicine. It has become naturalized in many parts of North America and is even considered a noxious weed in areas like Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, and Washington State. Despite this, tansy is a pretty little plant that adds potassium to soil while repelling several annoying insect species. Once you have tansy seeds, however, learning how to grow tansy will be the least of your problems. This plant is a prolific re-seeder and can become quite a nuisance in some gardens.
Tansy Plant Info
The herb garden was the center of the home in the Middle Ages and eras prior. Today’s tansy uses in the garden are much more limited due to modern pharmaceuticals and different tastes over the years. However, this forgotten herb provides ornamental appeal and still packs all the medicinal and culinary wallop of the past. It is up to us to rediscover the healthy, natural tricks of our ancestors and decide for ourselves if herbal lore is useful to us today or simply an attractive addition to the perennial garden.
Tansy herb plants are easy to grow and have lovely flowers and foliage. They are rhizomatous perennial members of the Daisy family and may achieve 3 to 4 feet in height. The foliage is attractive with delicate fern-like leaves; however, they smell rather strongly and are not an aromatic delight. Tiny yellow button-like blooms appear in late summer into fall.
Unlike most daisy members, the flowers lack ray petals and are instead discs of less than 3/4 of an inch in width. These are the source of the seeds, which have become a nuisance in many northwest gardens. Numerous fine seeds are produced on the numerous flower heads and readily germinate and start new plants. If any tansy plant info is taken away from this reading, it should be the importance of deadheading to prevent a rampant takeover of the plant in your garden.
How to Grow Tansy Herbs
In areas where the plants are a nuisance, growing tansy herbs may not be the best idea unless you are up for constant deadheading or can contain the plant in another manner. That being said, tansy herb plants are unfussy, reliable perennials that thrive in any area with at least 6 hours of sunlight. This makes them perfect for either full or partial sun locations.
Once established, tansy is drought tolerant and thrives in a variety of soils. In early spring, cut plants back to within a few inches of the ground to force compact growth and a clean appearance.
If growing tansy herbs from seed, plant in fall in well worked soil to allow seed to experience cold stratification.
Tansy Uses in the Garden
Tansy makes an excellent companion plant for many types of vegetables, as it contains compounds which repel certain insect pests. It has a camphor-like scent that not only sends insects running, but also has uses in killing parasites internally in both humans and animals.
Tansy adds potassium to the soil, one of the macro-nutrients all plants require for good health. Use it in kitchen herb containers to flavor stews, salads, omelets and more. It is also lovely when added amongst other herbs, both for the little flowers and the elegant feathery foliage.
In years gone by, tansy was also used as a natural textile dye. Tansy herb plants also make fine additions to everlasting bouquets, as the flower heads dry easily and hold both shape and color.
Tansy Essential Oil: 10 Benefits & Uses
Tansy essential oil comes from a perennial tree that is a member of the aster family. Its leaves are serrated and fernlike, and its flowers are flat, bright yellow, and resemble buttons. While it’s native to Europe and Asia, tansy is now grown around the world and has several medicinal uses. However, in large doses, the active constituents are toxic. Despite these warnings, tansy is used in cooking, as it adds a spicy tang to salads, much like cinnamon or nutmeg. And its medicinal uses are many, including fighting off many illness-causing bacteria, fungi, and viruses. (1) You can learn more about the benefits of this powerful oil by reading the list below.
Here are 10 amazing benefits and uses of tansy essential oil:
1. Prevents Bacterial Infections
Potentially fatal to humans, tansy essential oil also packs a mighty wallop when faced against many bacteria. It kills them and inhibits their multiplication as well. While the dosage needs to be mild, tansy oil can be extremely effective against bacterial infections. (2)
2. Protects Against Fungal Infections
This essential oil is also harsh on fungi, destroying it and the spores as well. As such, tansy oil is effective on certain skin conditions, running ears, and hair loss caused by fungi, and dysentery. (3)
3. Reduces Inflammation
Tansy essential oil is also an effective treatment for inflammation, in particular inflammation found on the skin. Moreover, it gives some relief to respiratory, digestive, and nervous system inflammation. (4)
4. Controls Allergic Reactions
Allergies occur when histamine in your body overreacts to various triggers, i.e., allergens. This can cause rashes, itchiness, severe coughs, asthma, breathing issues, or hiccups. Tansy essential oil, however, can neutralize histamine, which can calm bothersome symptoms. (5)
5. Protects against Viral Diseases
The components like thujone and camphor are toxic to living cells and capable of killing viruses as well. These components rupture the cyst, probe inside, and kill the virus. This stops the growth of the virus and gives immunity against viral diseases like the common cold, mumps, measles, and pox. (6)
6. Reduces Fevers
Some fevers are indicative that your body is fighting an infection. If you rid of the infection, you can lower the fever. Tansy essential oil, being antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial, can help fight infections that cause fevers. Furthermore, the anti-inflammatory properties in this oil can also help reduce fevers, as inflammation can also raise body temperature. (7)
7. Deters Insects
If you have a problem with pests, try using tansy oil to rid of them. It works against cockroaches, ants, termites, moths, mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, lice, and bed bugs. It even works on lizards and mice! (8)
8. Stimulates Secretion of Hormones
Tansy essential oil can also address issues with the thyroid and thymus glands. This is because it can stimulate the endocrine glands and increase the secretion of hormones. (9)
9. Relieves Nervous Afflictions
Those who suffer from anxiety, depression, anger, convulsions, nervous afflictions, epilepsy, hysteric attacks, and impulsive behavior may find relief with the use of tansy essential oil. It acts as a sedative for the nerves and helps control emotional impulses. (10)
10. Kills Intestinal Worms
The toxic effect of tansy essential oil also works against intestinal and other parasitic worms in the human body. This includes roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, as well as others. Moreover, it can kill worms that develop into wounds. This in turn helps in the regrowth of healthy cells, as well as speeding up healing time. (11)
Exercise Caution Regarding Tansy Essential Oil:
Due to its high concentration of thujone, this product can be fatal, even in small doses. Additionally, it can trigger hallucinations and severe nervous disturbances, while having addictive, narcotic effects. (12)
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