(Tanacetum vulgare) Thistle family
Flower-heads - Small, round, of tubular florets only, packed
within a depressed involucre, and borne, in flat-topped corymbs.
Stem: 1 1/2 to 3 ft. tall, leafy. Leaves: Deeply and pinnately
cleft into narrow, toothed divisions; strong scented.
Preferred Habitat -
Roadsides; commonly escaped from gardens.
Flowering Season - July-September.
Distribution - Nova Scotia, westward to Minnesota, south to
Missouri and North Carolina. Naturalized from Europe.
"In the spring time, are made with the leaves hereof newly sprung
up, and with eggs, cakes or Tansies which be pleasant in taste
and goode for the Stomache," wrote quaint old Gerarde. That these
were popular dainties in the seventeenth century we further know
through Pepys, who made a "pretty dinner" for some guests, to
wit: "A brace of stewed carps, six roasted chickens, and a jowl
of salmon, hot, for the first course; a tansy, and two neat's
tongues, and cheese, the second." Cole's "Art of Simpling,"
published in 1656, assures maidens that tansy leaves laid to soak
in buttermilk for nine days "maketh the complexion very fair."
Tansy tea, in short, cured every ill that flesh is heir to,
according to the simple faith of mediaeval herbalists - a faith
surviving in some old women even to this day. The name is said to
be a corruption of athanasia, derived from two Greek words
meaning immortality. When some monks in reading Lucian came
across the passage where Jove, speaking of Ganymede to Mercury,
says, "Take him hence, and when he has tasted immortality let him
return to us," their literal minds inferred that this plant must
have been what Ganymede tasted, hence they named it athanasia! So
great credence having been given to its medicinal powers in
Europe, it is not strange the colonists felt they could not live
in the New World without tansy. Strong-scented pungent tufts
topped with bright yellow buttons - runaways from old gardens -
are a conspicuous feature along many a roadside leading to
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