Tansy

©Richard Burkmarr

Tansy

Scientific name: Tanacetum vulgare
Tansy is an aromatic plant of rough grassland, riverbanks and verges that has button-like, yellow flower heads. It is the main foodplant of the rare Tansy Beetle, now found at only two places in the UK.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 90cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

July to October

About

Tansy is an aromatic plant of disturbed ground, rough grasslands, riverbanks and roadside verges. It has fern-like foliage and yellow flower heads that appear in clusters from July to October. It is a composite flower, so the flower heads are made up of lots of tiny flowers called 'disc florets', but no outer 'ray florets'. It has a long history of use for medicinal purposes and was cultivated by the Ancient Greeks. Now, many forms are available as decorative garden varieties, attracting a wide range of insects.

How to identify

The leaves of Tansy alternate up the length of its reddish stem. Each leaf is divided into many leaflets, which are finely toothed, giving them a fern-like appearance. The yellow flower heads (consisting of lots of tiny flowers) look like small, rounded buttons and cluster together.

Distribution

Found throughout the UK, but scarcer in the north of Scotland.

Did you know?

Tansy leaves were traditionally eaten at Easter to help kill off the worms that the diet of fish at the time caused. They were quite bitter, so were mixed with eggs, milk and flour in a kind of pancake or omelette.

How people can help

Although they might not look especially wildlife-friendly, our roadside verges, railway cuttings and waste grounds can provide valuable habitats for all kinds of plants and animals. The Wildlife Trusts are involved in many projects to make these places as beneficial for wildlife as possible. We have a vision of a Living Landscape: a network of habitats stretching across town and country that allow wildlife to move about freely and people to enjoy the benefits of nature. Support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.