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.
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