Tanacetum parthenium (TAN-uh-SEE-tum, par-THEN-ee-um) is a robust, strongly scented herbaceous perennial hailing from the Caucasus and the Balkans.
Over time, this useful medicinal plant has been carried hither, thither, and yon and is now naturalized throughout Australia, Europe, and many parts of North America.
It is not to be found in Arizona, Florida, or the Great Plains of the United States.
Otherwise, it is fairly ubiquitous.
This member of the Asteraceae family looks quite a bit like chamomile but is not related.
It is sometimes referred to as Matricaria parthenoides.
Common names include:
- Chrysanthemum parthenium
- The Housewives’ Aspirin
- Mid-Summer Daisy
- Wild Chamomile
- Febrifuge plant
- Feather Few
The genus name, Tanacetum, may be a derivative of a Greek word, athanatos, which means immortal or long-lasting.
This may be a reference to the plants’ long bloom time and the everlasting quality of the dried blooms.
The specific epithet, parthenium, is said to be a reference to the medicinal uses of this plant.
Legend has it, during the Parthenon’s construction during the fifth century, one of the builders fell, was injured, and was healed by this herb.
Feverfew Plant Care
Size and Growth
Feverfew is a clump-forming plant with a rounded growth habit.
The plant grows to heights ranging from 1′ to 3′ feet.
Individual plants may spread about a foot-and-a-half.
Feather Few has deep green, feathery, parsley-like lobed leaves 2″ or 3″ inches long.
The undersides of the leaves are slightly hairy.
Leaves have a strong citrus scent repellent to bees and other pollinators.
Flowering & Fragrance
Mid-Summer Daisy produces clusters of inch-wide, white flowers with bright yellow, disk-like centers.
The unscented, showy flowers appear in early June and persist through the end of August.
Light & Temperature
Plant Featherfoil in full sun or an area with a little light shade.
The plant is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5-10. It grows as an annual in cooler climates.
In the deep south, it may grow and bloom year-round.
Watering & Feeding
Wild Chamomile naturalizes easily in areas where the soil stays slightly moist.
This plant is not especially tolerant of drought.
Provide a light feeding of balanced fertilizer annually, early in the springtime.
Soil & Transplanting
Febrifuge plant likes loamy, sandy, well-draining soil with a fairly neutral pH (6.0-6.7).
Ideal soil should retain some moisture while simultaneously providing good drainage.
While it is possible to purchase seedlings to transplant into prepared soil after all danger of frost has passed, it is more usual to simply sow seed directly onto prepared soil and cover lightly.
Grooming & Maintenance
Mid-Summer Daisy is cut back vigorously to stimulate more bloom production.
Cut fresh flowers to use in arrangements or to create herbal concoctions.
Deadhead flowers regularly to encourage more blooms and to discourage self-seeding (if you so desire).
How To Propagate Tanacetum Parthenium
Flirtwort seeds are started indoors in the late winter months or sown directly into the garden in the springtime when there is no longer any threat of frost.
Germination takes between ten days and two weeks.
If you have a thick stand of Feverfew, propagate by dividing mature plants, but this is quite a bit of unnecessary work since they do grow so readily from seed.
Tanacetum Parthenium Pest or Disease Problems
Wild Chamomile is subject to very few pests and diseases.
Overcrowded, overwatered plants may be troubled by aphid infestation.
As members of the Asteraceae family, these plants may be affected by a bacterial disease known as Aster Yellows.
The use of insecticidal soap will address both of these problems.
Dusting with diatomaceous earth is also effective in killing off aphids and the bugs spreading the Aster Yellows bacteria.
In very hot, humid settings, Mid-Summer Daisy may tend to falter and burn out.
Is Feverfew Toxic Or Poisonous?
As the common name, The Housewives’ Aspirin, indicates, this medicinal herb isn’t toxic.
The leaves are often used in making commercially prepared remedies.
All above-ground parts of the plant are used to make teas, tisanes, and other folk remedy concoctions.
Traditionally, it is used to treat fever, headache, arthritis, and digestive upset.
Clinical studies indicate Feverfew is effective in treating patients suffering from common headaches and even migraines.
Is The Plant Invasive?
Wild Chamomile self-sows enthusiastically and can easily become invasive.
It has escaped gardens worldwide and naturalized easily in a wide variety of settings.
Keep a close eye on it, and keep unwanted self-seeding under control.
Suggested Feverfew Plant Uses
As a medicinal herb, Feverfew is an excellent addition to your herb garden.
Its good looks make it a nice addition to the landscape, as well.
It makes a nice border plant and does well naturalized in a meadow.
Remember to keep it away from plants needing the help of bees and other pollinators to prosper.
Mid-Summer Daisy is self-pollinating and does not need visits from pollinators, but its pollinator repellent properties could prove detrimental to its neighbors.