Urban Foraging Feverfew

Urban Foraging Feverfew
Ever since reading Grow Your Own Drugs earlier this year I've been looking around the neighborhood for useful plants and herbs. Feverfew derives from Latin word febrifugia, meaning "fever reducer." It has been used in European folk medicine for centuries to alleviate fevers headaches, stomach problems and skin conditions. In ethnic neighborhoods in Chicago it is easy to urban forage Feverfew and seems to spread more by gardeners sharing seeds than any other means.

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) is a perennial, member of the sunflower family and grows to about 18 inches tall producing a nice shrub appearance. Blooms emerge all summer and continue to bloom well into the fall and first freeze. Feverfew tea is made from the dried leaves but all parts of the feverfew plant that grow above ground are useful, including the feverfew flower. This herb is suppose to be aggressive and a rapid spreader, but I've not observed this in the gardens around me that it grows in. As I mentioned above it seems to spread from garden to garden on purpose, no doubt recommended to be grown for its medicinal properties. 


I think its resemblance to the other daisy-like flowers commonly referred to as chamomile makes people grow this herb. But the leaves of feverfew are wide and thick, while chamomile leaves are thinner and airier. You can also tell them apart because the yellow centers on feverfew are shorter and rounder. Feverfew is an attractive plant that you can grow in an herb or tea garden, and its compact nature make it a good candidate for growing in containers or window boxes. You can keep it in check by regularly deadheading the spent blooms to prevent seeds from spreading.

Related: Grow Your Own Drugs & Grow Great Grub.My two favorite gardening books about growing edible and useful plants in the garden.


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  • Great post.

    Any clue what kind of skin conditions it helps with? With the weather change (at least I'm blaming that) I a severe dry patch on my hand. Wonder if the tea helps there or it should be topical?

    Thank you Dr. BT :-)

  • In reply to PrairieGarden:

    It would be applied topically for a skin condition. Although, instead of trying to make something that would take days or weeks to cure, try one of the commercial products (AVEENO) that use it as an ingredient.

  • In reply to PrairieGarden:


  • In reply to PrairieGarden:

    I have a related plant, golden marguerite/yellow chamomile (Anthemis tinctoria) that has the more fern-like foliage, and whooh! does it spread (after about the third year; started mine from seeds of course!). Feverfew is still on my list, though; I love the pretty flowers. Germans swear by the tea as a cure-all, but I just swear *at* its taste. ;-)

  • In reply to gardenfaerie:

    I wanted to grow that but I read about how easily it spread and that kinda scared me. LOL, Germans.

  • In reply to PrairieGarden:

    that's grate.your suggestion is very good.
    i love plants............

  • In reply to PrairieGarden:

    I'll try these in a container next year. Can't see why anyone wouldn't want to grow such a pretty and useful plant!

  • In reply to wkspray:

    I think I'm going to grow it myself, instead of just foraging the plant from the neighbors. A tea garden is something I've wanted to grow for a long time.

  • In reply to PrairieGarden:

    I love feverfew, and have grown it in every place I've ever gardened. It's never been invasive for me. It's the first year for it in this garden - sure hope it comes back, or at least seeded itself. I've always found them to be relatively short-lived perennials. Feverfew is great for migraines.

  • In reply to ssgardengirl:

    I wonder why it gets classified as potentially invasive since it doesn't seem to grow that crazy in the gardens around me.

  • In reply to ssgardengirl:

    Fever few is a great ornamental herb. I placed it in one garden and my clients golden lab loved it so much that she lounged against it frequently. Great for many purposes!

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