Feverfew sounds comforting and inspires confidence, and the herb is just as comforting for some human ailments. So it was not a good development that feverfew was pretty much forgotten, and it is only logical in the course of a general return to natural substances that feverfew is just being rediscovered. In addition, a sea of ​​white flowers is always decorative, and a plant that requires almost no care is actually not out of place in any garden these days. If you haven’t been able to get to know the gifted herb yet, it’s about time.


Feverfew belongs to the daisy family, a family full of plants that people grow for use. All plants that are not exactly part of the mainstream in the kitchen or in the spice rack, chicory and endive , safflower and artichoke, Jerusalem artichoke and Mexican tarragon, arnica and wormwood all have a subtle bitter note and are used rather cautiously in the average German household.

Feverfew is also said to taste bitter and its scent gives an idea of ​​this character. The scent is classified somewhere between “chamomile”, “camphor-like” and “stinks”. If you’re sensitive to smell, it’s best to do a sniff test on a feverfew growing elsewhere before planting Tanacetum parthenium close to where you sit.

Feverfew is rather lovely in shape, a sea of ​​small white flowers above delicate light green foliage. In this respect, too, chamomile is quite similar. The flower can hardly be distinguished, nor the color of the leaves, only the finely structured, flat leaves differ very clearly from the fine leaf fluff of the chamomile on closer inspection. Feverfew grows persistently. The wild form grows to a height of between 30 and 80 cm. The flowers also show endurance, lasting from June to September.

Good locations

Feverfew is originally from the eastern Mediterranean area, but very originally, it has been documented with us for so long that it is listed as an archaeophyte (plant that spread to the Old World area before 1492 through human influence) throughout Central Europe.

Tanacetum parthenium has been able to cope with our climate for quite some time, the perennial plant is certainly frost-resistant here and doesn’t have too many other requirements either:

  • The undemanding plant prefers to grow in well-drained soil with a medium nutrient content
  • However, it also gets along with slightly more compact soils and can tolerate high nutrient levels
  • The light requirement is medium, a sunny location is fine
  • To the sides, the individual plant does not need more than 30 cm of space

Plant properly

Buying and planting young plants is in principle the simplest solution for feverfew, as it requires a certain amount of preparation. Because feverfew has become quite rare, simply going out in spring and buying young plants at the next market usually doesn’t work. Specialized herb nurseries often have young feverfew plants on offer, but not always. If in doubt, you will have to make several inquiries.

If you don’t find what you are looking for right away, it doesn’t matter much, feverfew can be planted from mid-May to early August and will not only please you for one season anyway. You can plant feverfew quite close together, it tolerates it, and the sea of ​​white flowers will be all the more striking. But it is also possible without looking for young plants:


Feverfew seeds are plentiful on the internet, Feverfew is easy to sow and you can start early in the year. At least for the cultivars, a pre-cultivation indoors is recommended, since the cultivars should only germinate incompletely when sown directly outdoors.

How to proceed:

  • Sow in a seed tray in March
  • Moisten the cultivation substrate well
  • Distribute the fine seeds (1,000 grains weigh 0.13 g) as evenly as possible
  • This works best if you mix the seeds with fine sand
  • The seeds are only scattered, feverfew needs light to germinate
  • Cover with glass or foil
  • Keep moist and air regularly
  • Place in a bright place with temperatures of 20-22 °C
  • It takes a week or two for the seeds to germinate
  • In total, it takes about five weeks until strong young plants have grown that can be planted in the garden

If you want to settle the wild form of feverfew in the garden because you want to benefit from the healing ingredients, you can also sow them directly in the bed. This should then happen from mid-April to the end of May, scatter the seeds and press them down lightly. The seeds are stimulated to germinate and prevented from flying away if you moisten the sowing area well with a fine jet.

Feverfew in decorative use

Feverfew develops one flower after the other, the leaves are similar to the chrysanthemums that are so popular in pots to flank stairs or decorate terraces. You can do the same thing with feverfew, which also blooms much earlier than chrysanthemums.

In addition, feverfew is one of the most durable cut flowers. The stems usually last at least 10 days in the vase without any preservative. Vase feverfew flowers should be cut when about a third of the umbels are open.

The care

Feverfew is ideal for all gardeners who have more to do in life than gardening, because it doesn’t actually need any care at all.

If necessary, the young plants must be watered until they are strong enough, but only after prolonged drought and heat. In the beginning, feverfew may also benefit from slug protection, as soon as the plants develop their own aroma, the slugs should leave them alone. When feverfew has outgrown the young plant stage, it hardly needs any additional watering, even leaves that have wilted due to drought recover.

Feverfew never sees fertilizer in the wild and doesn’t need it either, but it doesn’t object to a little compost in the spring either.


The wild form of feverfew tends to self-seed, if you want to prevent this the flowers must be cut away before the seeds ripen. This can e.g. B. done as part of the harvest of medicinal herbs, the leaves and flowers should be harvested in summer.

Otherwise, feverfew should be pruned back heavily each spring as it tends to become slightly woody at the base. You delay this with the pruning, and the new shoots make the perennial plant a little bushier each time.


Feverfew likes to multiply easily, it used to run wild from cottage gardens. It will self-seed if you leave a few flowers for it to set seeds from.

If you plant feverfew elsewhere in the garden or want to give it away, you can also propagate it from cuttings, although raising from seeds should be easier and faster.

Feverfew in action

Feverfew is a really versatile plant with a few talents:

1. Medicinal herb

Feverfew was so valued as a medicine for women by the ancient Greeks, around 2500 years ago, that they dedicated the plant to the goddess Athena. Since then, many healing effects have been described by many authors, feverfew tea as a remedy for contractions and menstrual cramps, against indigestion and externally to promote wound healing in bruises and swellings.

Hildegard von Bingen first described its use against headaches and “melancholy” (depression). Scientific studies have confirmed that feverfew is more effective against migraine headaches than all known chemotherapy drugs in most subjects. Research is underway into its use as an antidepressant and for some other healing purposes.

If you want to use feverfew for healing and discuss this with your doctor (as is always essential with medicinal herbs), you should also speak to him about the allergic potential. Known contact allergens are among the sesquiterpene lactones it contains. In addition, feverfew should never be taken during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and children under the age of 12 should not be given it either.

2. Insecticide

These sesqui-terpene lactones are plant defenses that are toxic to bacteria, fungi, worms and other parasites. The genus Tanacetum is very close to the genus Chrysanthemum. Both belong to the tribe Anthemideae and cannot always be clearly assigned as individual species. There are various Tanacetum species from whose dried flowers the commercially available insecticide pyrethrum is obtained (not the chrysanthemums, as is often somewhat imprecisely read).

The roots of feverfew are said to also contain pyrethrum, which is not entirely uncontroversial, but the other defenses are also said to qualify feverfew as a potential herbal insecticide, alongside which other plants thrive particularly well. If your plants don’t respond sufficiently, you can always go straight to Tanacetum cinerariifolium. This is the Tanacetum species with the most pyrethrum.

3. Moth powder

Another effect of feverfew’s repellents has also been proven for a long time: Dried feverfew leaves are said to keep moths away from the home. At least as good as insecticides with dubious and possibly toxic substances, it is reported. Anyone who has ever brought in a colony of moths with their purchase will appreciate that.

4. Seasoning

Some lovers of bitter notes like to add some Feverfew leaves to their salads. Finely tuned to a vinaigrette with sweet or nutty notes, walnut oil and a fairly old balsamic vinegar, for example.

Courageous gourmets are experimenting with feverfew’s aromatic flavor in several more directions. After all, we have 25 different taste receptors for “bitter” on the tongue, but only 3 for “sweet”.

varieties and species

Feverfew comes in several varieties:

  • Tanacetum parthenium, original form or wild form, contains the ingredients just described. You should buy from a trusted herbalist who will provide the botanical names if these ingredients are important to you.
  • Tanacetum parthenium ‘Aureum’, very light green foliage with a golden shimmer, is said to be even more robust than the green variety and not to have lost its medicinal properties.
  • In old publications, Tanacetum vulgare, better known to us as tansy, is listed as feverfew or power herb, which is used in herbal liqueurs as a substitute/supplement to cloves (“mother cloves”) and cinnamon (“mother cinnamon”, at that time every cinnamon was written with a double M). was admitted.
  • There is a whole range of cultivars, sometimes with double flowers, sometimes with ray florets. With all of these cultivars, it is no longer absolutely certain whether they will develop effects against migraines, etc.

 Feverfew is one of our old herbs and has certainly been unjustly forgotten. It can flavor food and liqueurs and do us good in several ways, and it is also a very decorative herb. The care is so simple that you can really forget about it in case of doubt, if necessary the feverfew will take care of the propagation all by itself, so if you don’t have this plant in your garden yet, you should do so as soon as possible.

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