PO Box 419

Hotchkiss, CO 81419



fax: 720-880-3051



Common tansy

Tanacetum vulgare L.


Keys to Identification

  • Button shaped flowerheads lack petals
  • Foliage is strong smelling when crushed
  • Slender leaflets

This information courtesy of the Colorado Natural Areas Program


Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower)


Other Names: garden tansy, golden buttons




Legal Status: Colorado Noxious Weed List B




Lifecycle: Perennial


Growth form: Forb/herbaceous


Flower: Yellow flowers are numerous in flat-topped dense clusters at the tops of the plants. Buttonlike flower heads lack ray flowers. July to September.


Seeds/Fruit: Seeds are yellowish brown achenes with short, five-toothed crowns.


Leaves: Leaves are alternate, deeply divided into numerous narrow, individual leaflets.


Stems: Mature plants are 11/2- 6 ft tall. Stems are often purplish-red and extensively branched towards the top


Roots: Rhizomatous.


Other: Foliage emits a strong odor when crushed.




Agricultural: Common tansy is considered undesirable forage for livestock. The plant is considered toxic; fortunately animals rarely ingest it as it is very unpalatable. Common tansy can impact forage quality and quantity.


Ecological: With adequate moisture common tansy will displace native and other desirable species.

Human: Can be toxic if large quantities are consumed.



Habitat and Distribution

General requirements: Common tansy is commonly found along roadsides, stream and irrigation ditch banks, in waste places, ornamental beds and in pastures. It grows best in full sun and on fertile, well-drained soil.


Distribution: Found throughout the United States.


Historical: Common tansy is a native of Europe that was introduced into North America as an ornamental and medicinal herb (Whitson et al. 1996). It has been used over the centuries for treating various ailments and as an insect repellent.




Life cycle: Perennial


Mode of reproduction: Reproduces by both seed and creeping rootstocks.


Seed production: listed as "prolific"


Seed bank: viability period unknown


Dispersal: Spread by seed movement, roots in infested topsoil and occasionally is found for sale (in violation with Colorado statute).




Colorado Natural Areas Program. 2000. Creating an Integrated Weed Management Plan: A Handbook for Owners and Managers of Lands with Natural Values. Colorado Natural Areas Program, Colorado State Parks, Colorado Department of Natural Resources; and Division of Plant Industry, Colorado Department of Agriculture. Denver, Colorado. 349 pages.


Dow AgroSciences. 1998. Common tansy-biennials/perennials. Dow AgroSciences. The Ranch, Pasture Improvement. Available:

LeCain, R. & Sheley, R., Montana State University Extension Service (12/2002). Common tansy (Tanacetum vulgare). (Publication No. MT199911 AG) Retrieved October 18, 2005 from


Whitson, T.D.(ed.), L.C. Burrill, S.A. Dewey, D.W. Cudney, B.E. Nelson, R.D. Lee, R. Parker. 1996. Common tansy. Weeds of the West. Western Society of Weed Science, in cooperation with the Western United States Land Grant Universities Cooperative Extension Services, Newark CA. pg. 184


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