Ten Tansy Facts!

Tansy Flowers

Ten facts you didn’t know about the common dye plant, Tansy….

  1. In the middle ages it was eaten during Lent to commemorate the “bitter herbs” eaten by the Israelites. It may also have had the added benefit of helping with flatulence caused by all the beans and pulses eaten during lent!
  2. Tansy was believed to help rid the intestines of worms
  3. Although its medicinal properties are now generally discredited, it is still listed in some pharmacopoeia as helping with fevers, colds and jaundice.
  4. Tansy can be used as an insect repellent; its bitter smell helps keep flies and insects away so can be used as a companion plant, and it is especially useful planted with potatoes to keep Colorado beetle away. A pot of tansy on a window ledge keeps flies away, and sprigs on the doorstep keep ants away.
  5. It contains volatile oils which can cause a contact dermatitis so care must be taken when handling the plant in its fresh state.
  6. Tansy was formerly used as a flavouring for puddings and omelettes. The herbalist John Gerrard (c. 1545–1612) noted that tansy was well known as “pleasant in taste”, and he recommends tansy sweetmeats as “an especial thing against the gout, if every day for a certain space a reasonable quantitie thereof be eaten fasting.” In Yorkshire, tansy and caraway seeds were traditionally used in biscuits served at funerals. (Wikipedia)
  7. The original Jack Daniel of Tennessee Whiskey fame put crushed tansy in his whiskey with brown sugar.
  8. Tansy in large quantities can be liver toxic but despite this it was used in teas and tisanes for anything from joint pain, worms and migraine!
  9. It can be used (carefully!) as an alternative to sage.
  10. Most importantly, it gives a beautiful yellow dye!
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