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Tanacetum parthenium - (L.)Sch.Bip.                
Common Name Feverfew, Matricaria
Family Asteraceae or Compositae
USDA hardiness 5-8
Known Hazards Do not use during pregnancy or with coagulation problems. Oral ulcers (aphothous ulcers in 5-15%) and/or gastrointestinal disturbances. Discontinuation may lead to rebound headaches, anxiety and insomnia [301].
Habitats Mountain scrub, rocky slopes, walls, waste places and a weed of gardens, avoiding acid soils[9].
Range S.E. Europe to Asia. Naturalized in Britain[17].
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun

Bloom Color: White, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Late summer, Mid summer. Form: Rounded.

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Tanacetum parthenium is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 6 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, self.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Synonyms Aphanostephus pinulensis. Chrysanthemum parthenium. Matricaria parthenium. Parthenium matricaria.
Tanacetum parthenium Feverfew, Matricaria

Tanacetum parthenium Feverfew, Matricaria
 Cultivated Beds; East Wall. In. South Wall. In. West Wall. In.
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts:
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Tea.

The dried flowers are used as a flavouring in cooking certain pastries[177, 183]. The plant is used in cooking to impart a deliciously aromatic bitter taste to certain foods[7]. A tea is made from the dried flowers[183].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antiecchymotic;  Antiinflammatory;  Antirheumatic;  Antispasmodic;  Aperient;  Bitter;  Carminative;  Emmenagogue;  Sedative;  Stimulant;  Stings;  
Stomachic;  Vasodilator;  Vermifuge.

Feverfew has gained a good reputation as a medicinal herb and extensive research since 1970 has proved it to be of special benefit in the treatment of certain types of migraine headaches and rheumatism[238, K]. It is also thought of as a herb for treating arthritis and rheumatism[254]. The leaves and flowering heads are anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, aperient, bitter, carminative, emmenagogue, sedative, stimulant, stings, stomachic, vasodilator and vermifuge[4, 7, 21, 36, 46, 53, 100, 165]. The plant is gathered as it comes into flower and can be dried for later use[7]. Use with caution[165], the fresh leaves can cause dermatitis and mouth ulcers if consumed[238]. This remedy should not be prescribed for pregnant women[238]. A tea made from the whole plant is used in the treatment of arthritis, colds, fevers etc. It is said to be sedative and to regulate menses[222, 238]. An infusion is used to bathe swollen feet[257]. Applied externally as a tincture, the plant is used in the treatment of bruises etc[7]. Chewing 1 - 4 leaves per day has proven to be effective in the treatment of some migraine headaches[222].
Other Uses
Essential;  Repellent.

The dried flower buds are a source of an insecticide. They are said to have the same properties as pyrethrum (obtained mainly from T. cinerariifolia)[61, 100, 201]. Steep 1 cupful of the dried flowers in one litre of hot soapy water for an hour. Strain, then allow to cool slightly before use[201]. An essential oil from the plant is used in perfumery[7].
Cultivation details                                         
Landscape Uses:Border, Container, Foundation, Massing, Rock garden. A very easily grown plant, it succeeds in an ordinary garden soil[1]. Thrives in any kind of soil[7], plants can even be grown in walls[219]. Often grown in the flower garden, feverfew is a short lived perennial but usually self-sows prolifically[7, K]. There are many named varieties selected for their ornamental value[238]. The cultivar 'Golden' (syn 'Yellow') has yellow tinted leaves[183]. The leaves have a refreshing aromatic aroma[245]. Special Features:Attractive foliage, Edible, Fragrant foliage, Not North American native, Attracts butterflies, Suitable for cut flowers, Suitable for dried flowers.
Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse. Only just cover the seed and do not allow the pot to dry out. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer, after the last expected frosts. If you have sufficient seed it can be sown outdoors in situ during the spring. Plants usually self-sow freely and so, once you have the plant, further sowing is usually unnecessary[K]. Division in spring. Since the plants are quite short-lived, this method is not really very serviceable[K].
Related Plants                                         
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Tanacetum balsamitaAlecost, Costmary32
Tanacetum cinerariifoliumDalmation Pellitory, Pyrethrum01
Tanacetum coccineumPyrethrum, Pyrethum daisy, Persian Insect Flower, Painted Daisy00
Tanacetum vulgareTansy, Common tansy, Golden Buttons, Curly Leaf Tansy22
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Expert comment                                         
Botanical References                                         
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[7]Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
[9]Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants in Europe. a drawing of each plant, quite a bit of interesting information.
[21]Lust. J. The Herb Book.
Lots of information tightly crammed into a fairly small book.
[36]The Herb Society Herbal Review. Vol.11. 3.
A very interesting article on the stinging nettle, Urtica dioica, giving a lot of information on its uses. Also details on Tanacetum parthenifolium and Melaleuca alternifolium.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[53]De. Bray. L. The Wild Garden.
Interesting reading.
[61]Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[100]Polunin. O. Flowers of Europe - A Field Guide.
An excellent and well illustrated pocket guide for those with very large pockets. Also gives some details on plant uses.
[165]Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism.
An excellent small herbal.
[177]Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption.
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[201]Allardice.P. A - Z of Companion Planting.
A well produced and very readable book.
[219]Grey-Wilson. C. & Matthews. V. Gardening on Walls
A nice little book about plants for growing against walls and a small section on plants that can grow in walls.
[222]Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America.
A concise book dealing with almost 500 species. A line drawing of each plant is included plus colour photographs of about 100 species. Very good as a field guide, it only gives brief details about the plants medicinal properties.
[238]Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
[245]Genders. R. Scented Flora of the World.
An excellent, comprehensive book on scented plants giving a few other plant uses and brief cultivation details. There are no illustrations.
[254]Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
[257]Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
[301]Karalliedde. L. and Gawarammana. I. Traditional Herbal Medicines
A guide to the safer use of herbal medicines.

Readers comment                                         
Elizabeth H.
TAS Wed Jul 12 2006
I've been dealing with an extremely odd type of headaches for over a year now. I've been to neurologists, had blood work done, see chiropractors; basically done everything and taken everything shy of seeing a witch doctor. The depressing thing is that nothing seems to have any effect on lessing or removing my headaches. Does anyone have any information on how useful this flower may/may not be in helping with this?
Elizabeth H.
S Tue Jul 18 2006
I suffered headaches on a daily basis for over 15 years. Had every test, tried every drug you could buy - noting worked. I tried Feverfew tables (standardised to contain 0.2% parthenolide)and they worked immediately. Now I hardly get any headaches at all, and have just started growing my own plants from seed. Worth their weight in gold.
Elizabeth H.
Uruka Sat Dec 22 2007
The reason this plant relieves headaches is because it is one of the few plants, such as St. John's Wort, that produce melatonin. This counteracts a depressing situation we face in industrialized society, the fluoridation of the water supply. There is comprehensive evidence that fluoride damages the pineal gland, which produces melatonin, regulates our sleep, our moods, and produce dimethyltriptamine while we sleep. This plant may indeed counteract the damage that is being done to the pineal gland.
Elizabeth H.
yussuf mgumia manzi Tue Aug 14 2007
will you please provide feverfew in swahili language
Elizabeth H.
ams Sat Sep 8 2007
I have has migraines for years, in fact all five members of out family has them. We grow and use feverfew and it is nothing short of a miracle. It tastes horrible, so my husband jams the leaves into gelatin capsules.
Elizabeth H.
Wed Sep 19 2007
the plant now grows like a weed in my garden, looks great in the summer when flowering and i share the crop of dried flowers with family and friends to be used as a cure for headaches and joint pain. it also helps repel the giant scottish midge.
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