Tansy Plants

The tansy plant is a flowering herbaceous perennial that belongs to the tanacetum genus, and is a member of the large asteraceae family. These hardy little plants are native to Asia and Europe, and can grow in just about any soil, provided that the area is nice and sunny. Tansy plants are made up of reddish, erect stems that bear feathery, compound foliage, and button-shaped flowers. Their leaves are finely divided, pinnately lobed, alternating and dark green; while their flowers are disc-shaped with a flat top, develop in large yellow clusters, and bloom without petals.

Although the tansy plant is considered to be rather invasive in some areas, it is still well loved throughout the world for its many uses. As a medicinal herb, these plants have long been used to expel parasites from the body, to urge on delayed menstrual cycles, and to calm frazzled nerves. Although they have many uses as a folk remedy, tansy plants are better known for their culinary applications. Though consuming this plant is widely thought to be inadvisable – as it is considered quite toxic – many people still believe that it makes for a fantastic summer spice. Those who stand by this plant state that if it is exposed to a sufficiently high heat, the toxins will become neutralized. Therefore, many of its old uses have come back into play; for example, they are most commonly used in stirfries, pan-fried vegetable patties, or baked into pastries. In addition to being quite useful, the tansy plant has also found its way into myth and magic. For instance, one Greek myth tells of a young cup-bearer named Ganymede. In this tale, the god Zeus took such a liking to Ganymede that he created a potion called athanasia – which contained tansy – and presented it to the cup-bearer so that he might continue to faithfully serve the god. Its more magical associations place it in the realm of Venus, associate it with the water element, and is thought to be sacred to the Greek goddess of youth, Hebe. It has also long been placed in a variety of charms, spells and potions to help attract longevity.

Symbolically, the tansy plant is said to be an emblem for protection against adversity; it is also said to represent health and endurance. As a gift, these plants are often presented in bouquets. The flowers are occasionally arranged with other brightly-hued blossoms, while the foliage is sometimes used as an arrangement filler, or within a wreath – which can double as a very handy bug repellent.

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