A really wild, yellow flower with an ancient, but dark history.
Easy recognized by it’s small circular, clustering flowers ‘buttons’ and it’s feathery leaves, it grows abundantly in abandonned green spaces in urban and disturbed environments.
Tansy (Tanacetum vulgarum) is an insect repellent and, as such, was used on corpses to prevent rot.
Used as food:
As early as 1600, tansy cakes (made of the leaves) were eaten at Easter, tansy pudding and tea as well.
RECIPE from an old cookery book:
‘Beat seven eggs, yolks and whites separately; add a pint of cream, near the same of spinach-juice, and a little tansy-juice gained by pounding in a stone mortar; a quarter of a pound of Naples biscuit, sugar to taste, a glass of white wine, and some nutmeg. Set all in a sauce-pan, just to thicken, over the fire; then put it into a dish, lined with paste, to turn out, and bake it.’
Eaten in large amounts tansy can really upset your stomach. The presence of thujone is what causes the toxicity of the plant and it’s bug repellent qualities.
Super interesting plant, but I think I’ll leave the eating of it to the 1600’s!
Come out on one of our wild edibles tours to learn more about culinary delights in the wilds.