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(Tanacetum vulgare)

Photo of tansy
Photo credit: Elizabeth J. Czarapata

Perennial herbaceous plant, 2-5' tall, erect, unbranched except for the flower head, stems slightly hairy, woody and purplish-red near the ground.

Overview map of tansy classification in WI
Restricted (orange) counties

Other names for this plant include:

  • Common names: common tansy, golden buttons, garden tansy
  • Scientific names: Chrysanthemum vulgare; T. boreale

Classification in Wisconsin: Restricted (cultivars 'Aureum' and 'Crispum' are exempt).

Ecological Threat
  • Invades well-drained or sandy soils in open disturbed areas, roadsides, fields, prairies, pastures and hedgerows.
  • Once established, infestations of common tansy displace native vegetation.

Leaves: Alternate, pinnately compound with deeply divided, toothed, fern-like leaflets, 4-10" long and 1½-3" broad. Leaves are intensely aromatic when crushed.

Flowers: Bright yellow, button-like discs up to 0.5" wide in a flat-topped cluster blooming from July through October.

Fruits & seeds: Seeds are dispersed by wind and water.

Roots: Extensive spreading root system. Tansy regenerates from root fragments.

Similar species: Common tansy should not be confused with Lake Huron tansy (Tanacetum huronense; native), a Wisconsin endangered species which is shorter (16-23"), has fewer and more prominent flowers and is found on sandy beaches, lake dunes and cracks in limestone pavement.


Mechanical: Can be cut or mowed before flowering to prevent seed set. Removing the dead vegetation with controlled burns can make the plants easier to target with herbicides.

Chemical: Foliar spray rosettes in spring using dicamba, glyphosate, and metsulfuron-methyl with a surfactant, 2, 4-D, clopyralid or a mixture of 2, 4-D and clopyralid.

For more information on control techniques, visit the Tansy factsheet [exit DNR] by the University of Wisconsin-Extension.

Sources for content:
  • Czarapata, Elizabeth; Invasive Plants of the Upper Midwest: an illustrated guide to their identification and control. The University of Wisconsin Press. 2005. Pg. 70-72
Links for more information: