Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide


Tanacetum vulgare



Tanacetum vulgare (tansy)


  • Last modified
  • 21 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Host Plant
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Tanacetum vulgare
  • Preferred Common Name
  • tansy
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Plantae
  •     Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •       Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •         Class: Dicotyledonae
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • T. vulgare is an aromatic perennial herb native to much of Europe and parts of Asia. It has been introduced into Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Guadeloupe, Martinique, New Zealand, Peru and the USA. In many parts of its exotic range...

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Tanacetum vulgare as an element of a natural Tanaceto-Artemisietum society (e.g. associated species: Artemisia vulgaris, Arctium lappa) on the bank of the Ahr river, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.
TitleHabit and habitat
CaptionTanacetum vulgare as an element of a natural Tanaceto-Artemisietum society (e.g. associated species: Artemisia vulgaris, Arctium lappa) on the bank of the Ahr river, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.
CopyrightGregor Schmitz
Tanacetum vulgare as an element of a natural Tanaceto-Artemisietum society (e.g. associated species: Artemisia vulgaris, Arctium lappa) on the bank of the Ahr river, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.
Habit and habitatTanacetum vulgare as an element of a natural Tanaceto-Artemisietum society (e.g. associated species: Artemisia vulgaris, Arctium lappa) on the bank of the Ahr river, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.Gregor Schmitz
Different phenological stages of tansy inflorescences.
TitleDifferent phenological stages
CaptionDifferent phenological stages of tansy inflorescences.
CopyrightGregor Schmitz
Different phenological stages of tansy inflorescences.
Different phenological stagesDifferent phenological stages of tansy inflorescences.Gregor Schmitz
Colony of Uroleucon tanaceti (Hom., Aphididae) on the under-side of a tansy stem leaf.
TitleNatural enemy
CaptionColony of Uroleucon tanaceti (Hom., Aphididae) on the under-side of a tansy stem leaf.
CopyrightGregor Schmitz
Colony of Uroleucon tanaceti (Hom., Aphididae) on the under-side of a tansy stem leaf.
Natural enemyColony of Uroleucon tanaceti (Hom., Aphididae) on the under-side of a tansy stem leaf.Gregor Schmitz


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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Tanacetum vulgare L.

Preferred Common Name

  • tansy

Other Scientific Names

  • Chrysanthemum asiaticum Vorosch.
  • Chrysanthemum tanacetum (Vis.) E.H.L.Krause
  • Chrysanthemum vulgare var. boreale (Fisch. ex DC.) Makino ex Makino & Nemoto
  • Dendranthema lavandulifolium var. tomentellum (Hand.-Mazz.) Y.Ling & C.Shih
  • Pyrethrum vulgare (L.) Boiss.
  • Tanacetum boreale Fisch. ex DC.
  • Tanacetum crispum Steud.
  • Tanacetum vulgare f. vulgare
  • Tanacetum vulgare subsp. boreale (Fisch. ex DC.) A
  • Tanacetum vulgare subsp. boreale (Fisch. ex DC.) Á.Löve & D.Löve
  • Tanacetum vulgare subsp. boreale (Fisch. ex DC.) Kuvaev
  • Tanacetum vulgare subsp. vulgare
  • Tanacetum vulgare var. boreale (Fisch. ex DC.) Trautv. & C.A.Mey.
  • Tanacetum vulgare var. crispum DC.
  • Tanacetum vulgare var. vulgare

International Common Names

  • English: common tansy; English fern; golden buttons; hindheal; parsley fern; scented fern
  • Spanish: tanaceto; tanarida
  • French: tanaisie; tanaisie commune
  • Portuguese: erva-de-San-Marcos

Local Common Names

  • France: tanacée
  • Germany: Rainfarn; Wurmkraut
  • Italy: tanaceto
  • Netherlands: boerenwormkruid
  • Sweden: renfana
  • UK: bitter buttons

EPPO code

  • CHYVU (Tanacetum vulgare)

Summary of Invasiveness

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T. vulgare is an aromatic perennial herb native to much of Europe and parts of Asia. It has been introduced into Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Guadeloupe, Martinique, New Zealand, Peru and the USA. In many parts of its exotic range, T. vulgare is neither an ecological nor an economical problem. In the northern temperate zone of North America (in particular in Canada), T. vulgare has become a noxious dominant weed in pastures, hay fields, riparian habitats and wastelands. Here, the perennial competes with both biennial and perennial herbs, as well as with grasses. It can displace native habitats and reduce the diversity of plants and insects. Due to its toxicity to livestock, particularly cattle, positive selection can be observed when T. vulgare grows under the conditions of grazing.

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Plantae
  •         Phylum: Spermatophyta
  •             Subphylum: Angiospermae
  •                 Class: Dicotyledonae
  •                     Order: Asterales
  •                         Family: Asteraceae
  •                             Genus: Tanacetum
  •                                 Species: Tanacetum vulgare

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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T. vulgare is part of the subtribe Tanacetinae within the tribe Anthemideae in the family Asteraceae. The Tanacetinae comprise Tanacetum and a number of genera apparently closely related to it and possibly having their sister groups within the genus. Resolution of the Tanacetum phylogeny requires extensive studies on the Asian taxa. There is no synapomorphy for the Tanacetinae. The subtribe is a provisional unit; it is paraphyletic and represents an unresolved and poorly understood complex within the Anthemideae (Bremer, 1995). A currently widespread hypothesis states that Tanacetum is closely related to Ophistopappus (sister group) and related to Tanacetopsis and others. Depending on taxonomic opinion, the genus Tanacetum comprises about 50 to 150 herbaceous plants and subshrubs, both annual and perennial (Mitich, 1992; Bremer and Humphries, 1993). Due to ongoing taxonomic revisions within the Asteraceae (e.g., Arriagada. 2003), the Tanacetinae may be subject to changes in the future.

In Corsica (France), Sardinia and Sicily (Italy), plants occur with finely dissected leaves that are sometimes regarded as separate species or varieties. The real status of these plants is unknown (Heywood, 1976). Hegi (1923) distinguishes forma typicum Beck (= forma latisectum Pospichal), forma tenuisectum Beck and forma crispum DC. for the European flora. According to Iwatsuki (1995), the plants in Japan are smaller than those in Central Europe. Lee (1996) states the same for Korea.

T. vulgare was first named in 1758 by Carl Linnaeus, and renamed Chrysanthemum vulgare in 1800 by Bernhardi. Today, both names are widespread, although there is extensive evidence of considerable differences between Tanacetum and Chrysanthemum. The common name 'tansy' is derived from the Greek 'athanasia' meaning immortality (Haughton, 1978; Quattrocchi, 2000). The English common names 'parsley fern' and 'scented fern' refer to the strong scent of the herb and its fern-like appearance. The name 'hindheal' indicates the use as a medicinal herb for various complaints. In the USA, T. vulgare is often named 'English fern' due to its introduction from the UK in the early sixteenth century. 'Tansy' is quite often confused with 'tansy ragwort' (Senecio jacobaea), even though there are significant differences between the two Asteraceae.


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T. vulgare is an aromatic perennial hemicryptophyte, patch-forming herb (30-)40-120(-160) cm high. The deep green leaves are 15-25 cm long, pinnatipartite to pinnatisect, glabrous to sparsely hairy and glandular-punctate. The lower cauline leaves are more than 5 cm long, petiolate, oblong to oblong-ovate and the segments pinnatisect to pinnatilobed. They are linear-lanceolate to oblong-elliptical. The upper cauline leaves are similar but sessile. The (5-)10-70(-l00) capitula, each showing an involucre of 5-8 mm in diameter, are arranged in dense, compound corymbs. In the outer ring, the florets are tubular, mostly female and zygomorphic, bright yellow. They are 3-toothed, rarely shortly ligulate, or actinomorphic (some flowers are 5-toothed and hermaphroditic). The inner florets are tubular and 5-toothed. The achenes are 1.2-1.8 mm long, 5-ribbed, possessing scattered epicarpic, sessile, transparent, non-mucilaginous glands; the pappus is a short unevenly toothed membranous cup, 0.2-0.4 mm wide (Clapham et al., 1952; Heywood, 1976).

In Corsica (France), Sardinia and Sicily (Italy), plants occur with finely dissected leaves; these are regarded by some as separate species or varieties.

Plant Type

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T. vulgare is native to Eastern and Central Europe, as far as temperate Asia and was introduced by humans throughout America, Australia and New Zealand.

Except for the Mediterranean Islands and Greenland, T. vulgare occurs in every European country. Whether it is truly native to Western Europe is a subject of debate. While some botanists assume it was introduced prior to the Middle Ages (i.e. archeophyte) (Kopecky, 1978; Ellenberg et al., 1992; Lohmeyer and Sukopp, 1992), others believe that it grew naturally in wide parts of Europe (Sebald, 1996).

The distribution in Asia is localised in the boreal zone, encompassing Russia, the Northern Provinces of China (Heilongjiang and Xinjiang), Mongolia, Japan and Korea. T. vulgare is not listed in the diverse floras of the Near East (Rechinger and Aellen, 1964; Abu-Irmaileh, 1979; Davis, 1988; Wood 1997), the Middle East/India (Kitamura 1960; Koba et al., 1994; Hajra et al., 1995) or tropical Southeast Asia (Merrill, 1912; Martin, 1971; Kress et al., 2003).

In Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand, the plant escaped from garden cultivation and now grows wild in the natural and secondary vegetation. Only a few records of naturalization exist for parts of South America, where the plant is cultivated for medicinal and ornamental uses. There are no records for Central America (Standley, 1928; Seymour, 1980) the Caribbean Islands (Alain and Leon, 1957; Liogier, 1997) or the tropical parts of South America (Gentry 1993; Jørgensen and Leon-Yanez 1999; Mori, 2002).

T. vulgare is not present in Africa or the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea (Humbert 1960; Hepper, 1963; Arnold and de Wet, 1993; Leistner, 2000; Beentje, 2002).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 10 Feb 2022
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes




ChinaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
JapanPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
MongoliaPresent, WidespreadNative
North KoreaPresentNative
South KoreaPresentNative


AlbaniaPresent, WidespreadNative
AndorraPresent, WidespreadNative
AustriaPresent, WidespreadNative
BelarusPresent, WidespreadNative
BelgiumPresent, WidespreadNative
Bosnia and HerzegovinaPresent, WidespreadNative
CroatiaPresent, WidespreadNative
CyprusPresent, WidespreadNative
CzechiaPresent, WidespreadNative
DenmarkPresent, WidespreadNative
EstoniaPresent, WidespreadNative
Faroe IslandsPresent, WidespreadNative
Federal Republic of YugoslaviaPresent, WidespreadNative
FinlandPresent, WidespreadNative
FrancePresent, WidespreadNative
-CorsicaPresent, WidespreadNative
GermanyPresent, WidespreadNative
GibraltarPresent, WidespreadNative
GreecePresent, WidespreadNative
HungaryPresent, WidespreadNative
IcelandPresent, WidespreadNative
IrelandPresent, WidespreadNative
ItalyPresent, WidespreadNative
LatviaPresent, WidespreadNative
LiechtensteinPresent, WidespreadNative
LithuaniaPresent, WidespreadNative
LuxembourgPresent, WidespreadNative
MaltaPresent, WidespreadNative
MoldovaPresent, WidespreadNative
MonacoPresent, WidespreadNative
NetherlandsPresent, WidespreadNative
North MacedoniaPresent, WidespreadNative
NorwayPresent, WidespreadNative
PolandPresent, WidespreadNative
PortugalPresent, WidespreadNative
-MadeiraPresent, WidespreadNative
RomaniaPresent, WidespreadNative
RussiaPresent, WidespreadNative
-Central RussiaPresent, WidespreadNative
-Eastern SiberiaPresent, WidespreadNative
-Northern RussiaPresent, WidespreadNative
-Russian Far EastPresent, WidespreadIntroduced
-Southern RussiaPresent, WidespreadNative
-Western SiberiaPresent, WidespreadNative
San MarinoPresent, WidespreadNative
SerbiaPresent, WidespreadNative
SlovakiaPresent, WidespreadNative
SloveniaPresent, WidespreadNative
SpainPresent, WidespreadNative
Svalbard and Jan MayenPresentIntroduced2011
SwedenPresent, WidespreadNative
SwitzerlandPresent, WidespreadNative
UkrainePresent, WidespreadNative
United KingdomPresent, WidespreadNative
-Channel IslandsPresent, WidespreadNative

North America

BermudaAbsent, Formerly present
CanadaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-British ColumbiaPresentIntroduced
-New BrunswickPresentIntroduced
-Newfoundland and LabradorPresentIntroduced
-Nova ScotiaPresentIntroduced
-Prince Edward IslandPresentIntroduced
GuadeloupeAbsent, Formerly present
MartiniqueAbsent, Formerly present
United StatesPresentIntroducedFirst reported: pre-1600
-New HampshirePresentIntroduced
-New JerseyPresentIntroduced
-New MexicoPresentIntroduced
-New YorkPresentIntroduced
-North CarolinaPresentIntroduced
-North DakotaPresentIntroduced
-Rhode IslandPresentIntroduced
-South DakotaPresentIntroduced
-West VirginiaPresentIntroduced


AustraliaPresentPresent based on regional distribution.
-New South WalesPresent, Few occurrencesIntroduced
-QueenslandPresent, Few occurrencesIntroduced
-South AustraliaPresent, Few occurrencesIntroduced
-TasmaniaPresent, Few occurrencesIntroduced
-VictoriaPresent, Few occurrencesIntroduced
New ZealandPresentIntroduced1883

South America


History of Introduction and Spread

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As mentioned above, it is not clear in which parts of Europe Tanacetum is truly indigenous. By the fifteenth century, T. vulgare was commonly used as a medicinal herb in France and England. Consequently, it had been introduced into the English colonies even before the seventeenth century, like so many other plant species. By 1785, T. vulgare was listed as a naturalized plant throughout the north eastern USA (Mitich, 1992), where it spread along roadsides, fences and hedgerows (Sievers, 1930). In 1912, T. vulgare was known as far west as Iowa and Kansas (Mitich,1992). Robbins et al. (1951) report the first occurrence in California. Today, T. vulgare can be found in almost all states and provinces of the USA and Canada, except Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands (USDA-NRCS, 2004).

In the late sixteenth century, T. vulgare was introduced into South America by the Spanish conquerors. Today, it is commonly grown in parts of Peru and Argentina (Dillon, 1981; Zuloaga and Morrone, 1999).

As in North America, T. vulgare was brought to Australia and New Zealand as an ornamental and medicinal herb. According to Webb et al. (1988), the plant was introduced into New Zealand for the first time in 1883, by which time it had already naturalized in Australia.

Risk of Introduction

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T. vulgare is still sold as an ornamental plant in the USA and many parts of the world, so that further spread is likely. Its broad ecological amplitude may support further spread.


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In Europe and North America, T. vulgare commonly grows along roadsides, on grassy areas, rough ground, meadows, urban areas, riverside gravel banks and wastelands. Grubov (2001) states that, in Mongolia, T. vulgare occurs in larch forests and their fringes, dwarf birch and willow thickets, birch and pine groves, forest meadows in forest belts, meadow plots and soddy rock fields in alpine belts. This may indicate a difference in habitat choice between eastern and western populations of T. vulgare. In Scandinavia, T. vulgare occurs from the coast all the way up to the birch zone and 70°N (Korsmo, 1930). As an ornamental plant, this species can be found as far north as Gamvik, Norway, 71°03'N (Jalas, 1991). In the northern hemispheric temperate zone T. vulgare can be found up to an altitude of 1500 m whereas in South America, it is grown up to 3580 m (Dillon, 1981).

Habitat List

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Terrestrial ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details
Terrestrial ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedUrban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalWetlands Present, no further details

Biology and Ecology

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T. vulgare has a chromosome number of 2n=18 (Tischler, 1950) which is stable (Heywood and Humphries, 1977), even though cytomictic disturbances occur (Virrankoski and Sorsa, 1968) and a wide variation in the content of nuclear DNA has been reported (Keskitalo et al., 1998).

Physiology and Phenology

At least 50 different chemotypes exist (Berberich, 1961) which probably differ also in physiological features. Fresh T. vulgare contains 0.12-0.18% volatile oil of highly variable chemical composition. Some races contain the ketone beta-thujone as the major constituent (to 95%) of the poisonous essential oil; others are devoid of it. Artemisia ketone, borneol, camphor, 18-cineole, cis-chrysanthenyl acetate, isopinocamphone, isothujone, piperitone, gamma-terpinene, umbellulone and some unidentified terpenes have also been reported as major ingredients of the essential oil. Citric acid, tartaric acid, gallic acid, gum, mucilage, resin and tannins are also reported (Duke, 1987). Appendino et al. (1982) report a hydroperoxysesquiterpene lactone, crispolide. Amines were sought but undetected in the flowers. Dry seeds contain 28.9% protein and 26.5% fat (Duke, 1987).

Reproductive Biology

T. vulgare usually germinates in the spring, developing a single rosette in the first vegetation period. The plant starts flowering and fruiting in late summer of the second year. In Central Europe, the flowering period usually takes place in August and September (Korsmo, 1930). According to White (2002), a small percentage of plants flowering in July produce viable seed, with a germination rate of 10-20% by mid-August. Overwintering seeds germinate at a rate of 70-90%. If the plant is cut off from a water supply, the biomass reduces up to 62% and flowering ceases (Cornelius and Haug, 1991).

T. vulgare reproduces sexually as well as vegetatively. According to Korsmo (1930), an individual plant produces 12,500 achenes (10 million per kg). Due to the elasticity of the dry stems, the fruits are catapulted by wind or animals (Düll and Kutzelnigg, 1988). The seeds need open soil for germination. Once established, the plant spreads by rhizomes (blastautochore) and can outcompete other herbs. Under optimum growing conditions, polycormones build up dense stands that can persist for many years. Seed banks in the soil persist for only a limited time (Oberdorfer, 2001).

The flowers are visited by numerous, mostly unspecialised insects, including Diptera, Hymenoptera, Coleoptera and Lepidoptera. In Central Europe, some Colletes spp. (Hymenoptera, Colletidae) are somewhat specialised visitors of flowers of T. vulgare (Westrich, 1990).

Environmental Requirements

In the Northern Hemisphere, T. vulgare mainly grows under planar to colline conditions and does not normally occur above 1500 m (in Austria, some cultivated forms are found above 1700 m). In Cuzco, Peru, however, cultivated plants grow up to 3580 m (Dillon, 1981).

T. vulgare is photophillic (Ellenberg et al., 1992) and prefers sandy, moderately moist, neutral to slightly basic, loamy soils (Oberdorfer, 2001). The plant is sensitive to salt (Ellenberg et al., 1992).

Air Temperature

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Parameter Lower limit Upper limit
Mean maximum temperature of hottest month (ºC) 10 25
Mean minimum temperature of coldest month (ºC) 0 -30


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ParameterLower limitUpper limitDescription
Dry season duration06number of consecutive months with <40 mm rainfall
Mean annual rainfall3003200mm; lower/upper limits

Rainfall Regime

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Soil Tolerances

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Soil drainage

  • free
  • impeded
  • seasonally waterlogged

Soil reaction

  • alkaline
  • neutral

Soil texture

  • heavy
  • light
  • medium

Natural enemies

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Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Aceria calathinus Herbivore Plants|Inflorescence
Aceria tuberculata Herbivore Plants|Inflorescence
Cassida stigmatica Herbivore Plants|Leaves not specific
Chrysolina eurina Herbivore Plants|Leaves; Plants|Roots to genus
Depressaria emiritella Herbivore Plants|Leaves
Dichrorampha Herbivore Plants|Roots; Plants|Stems
Gillmeria tetradactyla Herbivore Plants|Growing point; Plants|Roots to species
Isophrictis striatella Herbivore Plants|Inflorescence; Plants|Stems to species
Longitarsus noricus Herbivore Plants|Leaves; Plants|Roots not specific
Macrosiphoniella tanacetaria Herbivore Plants|Leaves; Plants|Stems
Microplontus millefolii Herbivore Plants|Stems to genus
Ozirhincus tanaceti Herbivore Fruits|pods
Phytoecia nigricornis julii Herbivore Plants|Stems to genus
Puccinia tanaceti Pathogen Plants|Leaves
Rhopalomyia tanaceticola Herbivore Plants|Inflorescence; Plants|Leaves; Plants|Stems to genus
Uroleucon tanaceti Herbivore Plants|Leaves

Notes on Natural Enemies

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The phytophagous arthropod complex of Central Europe is thought to consist of 143 species, of which 13% are believed to be monophagous (restricted to the genus Tanacetum) and 45% oligophagous (restricted to the family Asteraceae). Larval development has been recorded for 135 species (Schmitz, 1998). The phytophagous fauna of T. vulgare in Alberta, Canada, includes only one monophagous species, Aceria calathinus, which is an introduced gall mite from Europe (White, 1997). The species mentioned as 'monophagous' are reported to live exclusively on T. vulgare. However, some of these species may also occur on other Tanacetum species. For instance, the second Tanacetum species indigenous to Central Europe, T. corymbosum, is rare, and data on its natural enemies are insufficient.

Potential biocontrol agents have been selected on their potential host specificity, damage to the target plant and availability in their native European area. A number of potentially monophagous herbivore species considered for biological control of T. vulgare are the flower and seed-feeding moths Coleophora bornicensis and C. tanaceti (Coleophoridae), the flower gall midge Contarinia tanaceti (Cecidomyiidae), the flower feeding mite Aceria tuberculata (Eriophyiidae), the sap sucking bug Megalocoleus chrysotricus (Miridae) and the root and stem boring weevil Meliboeus graminoides (Buprestidae). A dozen of root-boring moths in the genus Dichrorampha have been recorded on T. vulgare of which Dicrorampha ambrosiana appears to be also potentially host specific.

Brandenburger (1985) reports of 23 fungal species on Tanacetum. One of the most appropriate candidates for biological control of T. vulgare is Puccinia tanaceti (Gäumann, 1959; Newcombe, 2003). This pathogen was recently recorded for the first time from the USA (Idaho: Newcombe, 2003).

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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Natural Dispersal

Wind and flowing water disperse the fruits of T. vulgare. Rhizomes may also be transported by water and as such T. vulgare is often found along rivers (Oberdorfer, 2001).

Vector Transmission

Animals can be responsible for catapulting the fruit which assists dispersal and cattle may carry seeds on their legs.

Intentional Introduction

T. vulgare is grown as an ornamental plant in gardens from which it may escape. The attractive flowers may also be transported as cut flowers.

Pathway Vectors

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VectorNotesLong DistanceLocalReferences
Soil, sand and gravelTansy is often found along rivers. Yes

Plant Trade

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Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Fruits (inc. pods)
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Growing medium accompanying plants
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches
True seeds (inc. grain)

Impact Summary

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Animal/plant collections None
Animal/plant products None
Biodiversity (generally) Negative
Crop production None
Environment (generally) None
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production None
Human health None
Livestock production None
Native fauna None
Native flora Negative
Rare/protected species None
Tourism None
Trade/international relations None
Transport/travel None

Economic Impact

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T. vulgare has almost no impact as a weed of field or plantation crops. It occasionally has negative effects on meadows due to avoidance by cattle. The north-central region of Canada is heavily infested by T. vulgare. A 1993 survey estimated that 26,384 ha, in 58 municipal districts were infested and that the total estimated annual cost to municipalities and private landowners for controlling tansy was CAN$ 256,617 (= CAN$ 9.70/ha; White, 1997).

Environmental Impact

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The spreading of T. vulgare in areas where the plant is introduced affects the diversity of herbaceous plants and, consequently, the entomofauna. In North America (especially Quebec, Manitoba, British Columbia, Alberta), T. vulgare may compete with the native flora in pastures, hay fields, riparian habitats, roadsides and waste areas (McClay, 1989; White, 2002). Thus, plant diversity may be reduced in places were T. vulgare becomes dominant.

By outcompeting native plants with a rich entomofauna, T. vulgare may reduce the phytophagous insect diversity on a local level. On the other hand, the flowers may serve as an important nectar source for pollinating insects however the corresponding investigations are so far not available.

Threatened Species

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Threatened SpeciesConservation StatusWhere ThreatenedMechanismReferencesNotes
Centrocercus minimus (Gunnison sage-grouse)USA ESA listing as threatened speciesColorado; UtahEcosystem change / habitat alterationUS Fish and Wildlife Service (2013)

Social Impact

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The possibility of T. vulgare causing health problems cannot be ruled out, e.g. poisoning, contact dermatitis, allergic reactions, including anaphylactic shock, and others.

T. vulgare can become a problem in pastures due to its toxicity for livestock, especially cattle (Roth, 1987; McClay, 1989; White, 2002).

Risk and Impact Factors

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  • Proved invasive outside its native range
  • Highly adaptable to different environments
  • Tolerates, or benefits from, cultivation, browsing pressure, mutilation, fire etc
  • Has high reproductive potential
Impact outcomes
  • Negatively impacts agriculture
  • Negatively impacts animal health
  • Negatively impacts tourism
  • Reduced amenity values
  • Reduced native biodiversity
Impact mechanisms
  • Competition - monopolizing resources
Likelihood of entry/control
  • Highly likely to be transported internationally deliberately


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Social Benefit

The attractive flowers of T. vulgare are grown in gardens and often cut for ornamental purposes (cut flowers).

In Central Europe, T. vulgare plays an important role as a reserve for aphidophagous insect fauna in agricultural landscapes (Aphidiidae, Coccinellidae, Syrphidae, etc.; e.g. Klausnitzer, 1968). The oil of T. vulgare may be rubbed on the skin and used as an insect-repellent (against flies and mosquitoes); in Russia, powdered T. vulgare is used as an insecticide. An extract of T. vulgare in distilled water supposedly deters the feeding of some Lepidoptera larvae, and T. vulgare grown under fruit trees is believed to repel insects such as flies and ants (Duke, 1987).

Although T. vulgare is quite poisonous, it found its way into omelettes, puddings, salads, pot-herbs, cheeses, dressings and especially herbal teas (Ranson, 1949; Mabey, 1996). Fresh young leaves are used to spice omelettes, fish or meat pies. Teas made of T. vulgare are bitter beverages brewed from fresh or dried leaves and tops. The tea is said to have a calming effect.

Leaf tips are still used today in the preparation of cosmetics and ointments. The essential oil is used in perfumery.

Medicinally, leaves and flowers of T. vulgare have stimulating and tonic properties. An oil obtained from the flowers is used primarily as an anthelmintic. The unguent made from the leaves is said to be a folk remedy for tumours in the tendons; it has shown some effect in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) cancer programme in the USA. T. vulgare may be used to treat stomach and duodenal ulcers, ague (leaves put into the shoes), amenorrhoea, bruises, burns, cholecystosis, cold, dropsy, epilepsy, fever, freckles, gout, hepatosis, hysteria, kidney problems, nerves, rheumatism, sores, spasms, sprains, swellings, tuberculosis; it is considered to be abortifacient, antibiotic, anthelmintic, antioxidant, antiseptic, ascaricide, bactericide, cordial, diaphoretic, emmenagogue, narcotic, nervine, pediculicide, poison, pulicide, sedative, stimulant, stomachic, sudorific, tonic, vermifuge and vulnerary. Hot fomentations are recommended for bruises, freckles, inflammation, leucorrhea, palpitations, sciatica, stomach ache, sunburn, swellings, toothache and tumours. Homeopathic doctors prescribe tinctures for abortion, amenorrhoea, chorea, dysmenorrhoea, epilepsy, eyes, hydrophobia, labial abscess, paralysis, strabismus and worms (Duke, 1987).

Mordujovich-Buschiazzo et al. (1996) report a rather strong anti-inflammatory effect that leads to significant reduction of oedema in rats. But they indicate the high toxicity, the LD50-ratio (for rats) is approximately 285 mg/kg body weight. Oil from T. vulgare is much more toxic and should be used only with extreme caution. Ten drops of the oil are supposed to be lethal (Duke, 1987). Symptoms of poisoning include rapid and feeble pulse, severe gastritis, violent spasms and convulsions (Duke, 1987). Keindorf and Keindorf (1978) report hyperoestrogenism in cattle. Holetz et al. (2002) stated activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, but no significant antifungal activity against yeasts.

Uses List

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  • Ornamental

Human food and beverage

  • Spices and culinary herbs


  • Essential oils
  • Poisonous to mammals

Medicinal, pharmaceutical

  • Traditional/folklore

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Similarities to common species are not known. T. vulgare may be confused with some of the Asian species, but their distribution is so localised that it is most unlikely to encounter them in the field.

Prevention and Control

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Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Cultural Control

While extensive grazing may promote seedling establishment on bare ground, heavy grazing results in a reduction in population of T. vulgare (White, 1997).

Mechanical Control

T. vulgare is sensitive to cutting and root-extraction (Korsmo, 1930; Briemle and Ellenberg, 1994).

Chemical Control

In comparative experiments on the efficacy of different herbicides/combinations (using metsulfuron, tribenuron, clopyralid, glyphosate, dicamba, 2,4-D, picloram), metsulfuron was found to be the most effective (Lass et al., 1987, 1988; Miller and Callihan, 1992).

Biological Control

Despite a biological control programme, no agent has been released for the control of T. vulgare (Winston et al., 2014). Host-specificity tests have indicated that the host range of the shoot-boring beetle Phytoecia nigricornis is not restricted to the target plant. Another potential candidate, the root-feeding beetle Longitarsus noricus, was found to be oligophagous on several genera in the tribe Anthemideae. The leaf-feeding beetle Cassida stigmatica and the flower, stem and leaf galling midge Rhopalomyia tanaceticola also seems to lack specificity on a few critical plant species in different genera. In addition, the efficacy of the flower-feeding moth Isophrictis striatella is questionable. None of the above species are therefore further considered for the biological control of T. vulgare. The following European herbivore species are currently being studied as candidate biocontrol agents: the shoot and root mining Plume moth Platyptilia ochrodactyla [Gillmeria tetradactyla], the stem mining weevil Microplontus millefolii and the leaf feeding chrysomelid beetle Chrysolina eurina (Gassmann et al., 2016).


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Distribution References

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Links to Websites

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GISD/IASPMR: Invasive Alien Species Pathway Management Resource and DAISIE European Invasive Alien Species Gateway source for updated system data added to species habitat list.
Global register of Introduced and Invasive species (GRIIS) source for updated system data added to species habitat list.


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13/12/2016 Updated by:

André Gassmann, CABI-CH, Switzerland

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