Feverfew – characteristics, cultivation and use

feverfew plant with flowers
feverfew plant with flowers

With its white tongue flowers and yellow tubular flowers, feverfew is reminiscent of the chamomile, which also belongs to the daisy family. However, it forms much shorter petals and tastes very bitter. Since antiquity, the healing properties of feverfew have been known and used in the Middle Ages for fever and headache. Originally it comes from the Mediterranean, but was also planted further north in cottage gardens and escaped. It is attributed to a preventive effect in migraine and is also used for indigestion, menstrual cramps and cough.

Profile of feverfew:

Scientific name: Tanacetum parthenium

Plant family: daisies, asters (Asteraceae)

Other names: bachelor’s buttons, featherfew, featherfoil, flirtwort

Sowing time / Planting time: April – May

Flowering period: June – September

Harvest time: May – October

Useful plant parts: leaves, flowers, shoots

Location: sunny to partially shaded

Soil quality: nutrient-rich and moist soils

These information are for temperate climate!

Use as a medicinal herb: migraines, rheumatism, depression, rashes, chronic headaches

Use as aromatic herb: no use

Plant characteristics and classification of feverfew

Origin and occurrence of feverfew

The region of origin of feverfew is found in the eastern Mediterranean. However, since the plant is very adaptable, it has been able to spread throughout most of Europe since the early Middle Ages, thanks to its numerous trade routes and its medical applicability. In many cottage gardens and monastery gardens, the plant was grown on a large scale.

The feverfew is therefore often found wild in many regions of Central Europe. Mostly it can be found on nutrient-rich meadows and roadsides as well as on the edges of many gardens.

Plant order of feverfew

In the botanical classification, feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium) belongs to the daisy family (Asteraceae), which is a remote relationship to important medicinal plants such as the real chamomile or dandelion. In the narrower classification, the plant belongs to the genus of tansies (Tanacetum), which include common tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) and balsam herb (Tanacetum balsamita).

feverfew flowers
feverfew flowers

Look and characteristics of feverfew


The feverfew is a perennial growing plant that can reach heights between 25 and 90 cm (10 and 36 in). The plant emits a strong aromatic odor due to the abundance of essential oils. Feverfew is a shallow-rooted plant. Its roots are with light-brown, fine-haired and densely occupied.


Feverfew forms olive to light green leaves, which are feathery and sawn to the rounded shape. The leaves themselves are usually between 3 and 7 cm (1.2 to 2.8 in) long and about 2 to 3 cm (0.8 to 1.2 in) wide. These are arranged alternately on the ribbed and hairless stems.


The flowering period of feverfew lasts from about early June to mid-September. The flowers are reminiscent of the appearance of chamomile. However, the flower heads are much smaller and larger in number. The flowers, which are usually up to 2 cm (0.8 in) in diameter, are arranged on a corymb and usually contain between 20 and 35 individual flowers.


The fruits are split fruits.

Feverfew – cultivation and care

Feverfew is still planted in some gardens as a perennial plant. The cultivation of the plant is not particularly difficult and should succeed even inexperienced gardeners.


The feverfew grows in both sunny and semi-shaded locations, even if places with sunshine are preferred. In partially shady places, the plant is usually a little smaller and forms less flower heads.


The demands on the soil are a bit stricter. Feverfew loves nutrient-rich, slightly moist and rather heavy soils.


The sowing of feverfew seeds should take place in the spring between April and mid-May. A preculture between February and March on the windowsill or in the indoor greenhouse may be useful if you want to have larger specimens and a flowering guarantee for the current garden season. The seeds need only be pressed lightly in soil, they need light to germ. If several specimens are sown in the field, a planting distance of about 10 to 15 cm (4 to 6 in) should be maintained. The soil should always be kept slightly moist during the growing phase, whereby wet soil or waterlogging should be avoided at all costs. As a rule, the first seedlings appear after about 14 to 21 days.


If feverfew grows in good, nutrient-rich garden soil, no fertilizer is usually required in the first year. In the second year, you can mix some compost or organic fertilizer in the spring. If the herb is cultivated on the balcony, a normal herbal fertilizer should be used shortly before flowering (towards the end of June / beginning of July), but it can be used sparingly.


Feverfew likes it a bit damp, but it can easily survive some dry periods. However, on very hot days with very little or no precipitation, the soil should be properly poured. This is especially true when the plant grows up in full sun.


Since the feverfew is a perennial plant, a pruning should be considered in the early autumn months. Depending on how the herb looks externally, up to a quarter of the plant can be cut back.


The plant is hardy and tolerates frosts down to -12 ° C / 10 ° F without any problems.

feverfew with white blossom
white blossom of feverfew

Feverfew and its use

Feverfew in the kitchen

The Feverfew is not used in the kitchen. All components of the plant taste very bitter and have no usable spice power. Exceptions are the young shoots or seedlings, which can be used in salads similar to cress.

Feverfew as a medicinal herb

The feverfew can be used in a variety of applications, ranging from fever, cough, headache to many women’s complaints and more. In the diet, however, the herb does not matter.

For the healing effect a tea, a tincture or fresh herb can be taken. As a woman’s herb (in some languages its called mother-herb), the like plant has a menstrual regulating and balancing effect on the cycle, while relieving abdominal cramps. But even during childbirth, it can strengthen the uterus and promote afterbirth. During the menopause, it has a harmonizing effect and can relieve discomfort.

Preparation of a feverfew tincture

Preventing migraine helps an alcohol extract of feverfew. But also with many gynecological problems, indigestion, parasites or worms in the intestine, the tincture can be used. Applied externally, it relieves insect bites.

The tincture is available in health food stores or online, but you can also easily make tinctures yourself.

Use the following ingredients

  • a handful of feverfew flowers
  • 200 ml (7 fl oz)alcohol or vodka (at least 40% alcohol content)
  • screw top jar
  • tincture bottle for storage

How to make the extract:

  1. add the fresh or dried flowers to the glass and add alcohol until completely covered.
  2. close the glass and let it stand for four to six weeks.
  3. strain and fill in dark vials.

To prevent migraine, you can take 15 to 20 drops diluted in water three times a day.

Preparation of a feverfew tea

Like the tincture, feverfew as a tea helps prevent migraine attacks. It may also help with normal headaches, depression, cold, fever and cough. The plant also acts digestive and deflating. Even against parasites, such as worms in the intestine he should work.

This is how you prepare a feverfew tea by yourself

  1. put a tablespoon of fresh or a teaspoon of dried feverfew in a tea strainer in a cup

  2. dash with boiling water

  3. let it steep for 5 to 10 minutes

  4. drink in small sips

You can take it preventively for migraine, as well as for menstrual cramps, Drink the tea for several weeks three times a day. In order not to get used to the healing effect of the body, you should take a one-week break after about two months.

Externally, you can also apply the extract to purulent wounds to speed healing.

Hair conditioner against lice

For flushing against lice, you proceed as in the preparation of the tea. After cooling, the rinse is applied to the scalp. Repeat the application as needed.

Feverfew can be used for these ailments and diseases

  • asthma
  • bloating
  • constipation
  • colds
  • cough
  • depressions
  • expanding vessel
  • fever
  • gout
  • headache
  • insect bites
  • joint inflammation
  • leukemia
  • migraine
  • promoting birth
  • promoting blood circulation
  • promoting menstrual
  • promoting ovulation
  • purulent wounds
  • regulating menstrual
  • rheumatism
  • stomach weakness
  • tinnitus

Medicinal properties

  • anti-inflammatory
  • antispasmodic
  • reassurin
  • stimulating

Side effects

People who have allergy to daisy family should refrain from using it. If feverfew or feverfew preparations are taken too long or overdosed, dizziness, nausea or skin irritation may result. In case of doubt or uncertainty as well as uncertain application, a doctor, pharmacist or naturopath should be consulted.


Feverfew should not be used during pregnancy, especially not in the first third.


Ask your doctor or pharmacist. Visiting this page can not replace the visit to the doctor. For serious or unclear complaints, consult your doctor.

Buy feverfew – What should be considered?

In recent years, feverfew has become more and more of a focus for gardeners, which means that feverfew plants are offered for cultivating in the garden in many plant trade markets. When buying the young plant, it should be examined whether there are black aphids on the leaves or leaf axils. Also for small brownish spots, which are at the leaf margins, should be looked out. Behind it often hides a rust fungus, which usually leads to the death of the plant.

For medical applications, some manufacturers also offer dried feverfew, which can be used directly for teas or tinctures. When buying it should be ensured that there is no allergy to daisy family.

Also, capsules and tablets of feverfew extracts are offered, which are mostly for people suffering from migraine, stress or hay fever. For relief, the preparations must be taken continuously for several weeks. Pure feverfew preparations are often controversial in their effectiveness. However, preparations that contain both feverfew and butterbur have been classified by many sufferers as effective, which has been partially confirmed by scientists.

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