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Feverfew

Tanacetum parthenium

  • Family: Daisy Family – Compositae, subfamily Asteroideae
    (formerly Aster Family – Asteraceae)
  • Growing form: Perennial herb.
  • Height: 10–50 cm (4–20 in.). Stem often branched from base, grooved. Powerful herb-like scent.
  • Flower: Flowers form approx. 1.5 cm (0.6 in.) wide, single flower-like capitula surrounded by involucral bracts. Capitulum ray-florets white, tongue-like; disk florets yellowish, tubular or sometimes like ray-florets. Stamens 5. Gynoecium composed of 2 fused carpels. Involucral bracts in 3 rows, finely haired, green. Capitula 2–35 borne in a corymbose cluster.
  • Leaves: Alternate, stalked–stalkless. Blade oval–ovate, usually pinnately lobed, finely haired, opaque–lime green, lobes toothed, with rounded tip.
  • Fruit: Ridged achene crowned by a low membranous ring.
  • Habitat: Lawns, yards, roadsides, waste ground, rubbish tips. Ornamental, left over from old gardens and an escape.
  • Flowering time: July–October.

Feverfew is a somewhat rarely cultivated perennial in Finland. The variety that lacks ray-florets is easily recognised as a relative of our native common tansy (T. vulgare), but its capitula’s whiter ray-florets bring to mind the oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare). The genus markers have changed many times and in many ways, and have only been systematised very recently. Defining the genera is difficult, if not impossible, and is highly dependent on which features different researchers emphasise. The arbitrariness seems to only increase the fact that the species are defined with the help of markers on the achene that are invisible to the naked eye, or sometimes by chromosomes, similar development, and the chemical similarities of the plants.

Feverfew is grown in gardens as an undemanding, abundantly-flowering annual. Apart from the natural form, there are also varieties with compound racemes. Plant breeders have brought attention to the plant’s leaves, of which a lime green variety has been bred. Feverfew is also used as a cut flower as it lasts well, as it does as a dried flower too. Feverfew thrives best in dryish places, and it occasionally thrives so well in southern Finland that it has escaped into the wild, especially in the Åland Islands, south-west Finland and in the Uusimaa province on the south coast, but long-lasting stands have been observed as far north as Tampere. As a casual plant feverfew has been observed in the north too, at least as far as Kajaani.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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