Tansy was one of the good old "standbys" of our grandmothers' time, and was relied upon to cure anything and everything in the way of bodily ills that happened to disturb any member of the household, down on the farm. It was also one of the favourite plants in the flower beds that used to decorate the grass plots about our dear old homesteads. Its dried leaves were formerly used for flavouring or seasoning various dishes, particularly puddings and omelets. Tansy tea was also in great favour as a domestic tonic and stimulant, and is still used for various ailments of the stomach and liver. It is also used locally for relieving pain in muscular rheumatism and bruises.
Frivolous damsels of the sixteenth century soaked Tansy leaves in buttermilk for nine days, and used the liquid for improving their complexions. Bunches of Tansy are hung about the house, and its presence is said to be very effectual in keeping flies out of the rooms. Thoreau says that it was used in connection with funerals. The round, smooth, upright stalk is leafy, and branches at the top. It grows from one and a half to three feet high, from a perennial root. The strongly scented, curling, dark green leaves are very deeply cleft into numerous narrow, lance-shaped sections, which are sharply cut and toothed. They are bitter and aromatic. The flower head resembles the yellow button or disc of a Daisy after the white ray flowers have been removed. The numerous tiny, yellow, tubular florets are tightly packed into a small, flat head, which is slightly hollowed in the centre. The heads are set into shallow, greenish cups, on short stems, many of which are closely grouped into several large, dense, terminal, flat-topped clusters. Their odour is noticeable for a considerable distance. Tansy came to us from Europe and grows along road-sides from July to September, where it has escaped from gardens. It is found from North Carolina and Missouri to Canada.
TANSY. BITTER BUTTONS. Tanacetum vulgare.