2.10 Feverfew and Pyrethrum

Photo: Tanacetum parthenium 20. Latin name:
Feverfew: Tanacetum parthenium (Chrysanthemum parthenium)
Pyrethrum, Dalmatian daisy: Tanacetum cinerariifolium (Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium)

Have a look at entry 2.9, feverfew and migraine, in the medicinal herbfaq.

2.10.1 Growing feverfew - it does not seem to repel bees.

>I bought a feverfew plant today with high hopes of introducing it to my herb garden. Now I have read (of course I couldn't research before making my purchase) that bees can't stand the smell of feverfew and won't come near a garden with feverfew in it!

From: James Michael Kocher <jk1n+.andrew.cmu.edu>
I watched with delight last evening as the bees visited the heavy blossoms of my foxglove, which are growing right next to feverfew. I have never noticed a lack of bees, and feverfew grows all over my garden.

2.10.3 Using / preserving Feverfew

Have a look at the migraine / feverfew entries in the medicinal herbfaq.

2.10.4. Which feverfew do you have?

From Rene Burrough <100735.543.compuserve.com>:
Feverfew is one of my favorite garden herbs, and I let it self seed gloriously. I came about having it in my garden as a total mistake. I thought I was planting an insecticide. It's not, and I'd like to give you the benefit of my mistake because Feverfew does not contain pyrethrum -- the organic insecticide.

Certainly feverfew, Tanacetum parthenium (formerly Chrysanthemum parthenium) is a good companion plant in a vegetable garden. Because of the flat composite head, hover-flies are attracted to it. Hover-flies are invaluable for eating the larvae of aphids. Any kind of aphid. So feverfew does provide a way of eliminating insects.

But the actual insecticidal constituents, pyrethrum & cinerin, are found in Tanacetum cinerariifolium. Obviously, also a member of the Composite family. It has finely divided, pungent, grey-green leaves. White daisy flowers with yellow centers as does feverfew. I don't think T. cinerariifolium has single & double forms. Certainly there is not a golden leafed T. cinerariifolium as there is T. parthenium var. aureum.

Pyrethrum has a local name of Dalmatian Daisy. The leaf of the pyrethrum gives a feathery feeling to the whole plant while feverfew has a chunkier look to say nothing of seriously lobed, with scalloped edged leaves.

The leaves of pyrethrum are concentrated closer to the ground -- giving a yarrowy kind of look to the base of the herb; while feverfew's leaves provide a bushier effect, and thus the flower heads themselves seem to be more part of the plant than above it as with the pyrethrum.

In the UK it is illegal to make homemade insecticides. In theory one could extract the juice from the plant to make an insecticidal spray. Legally, one can buy the powder which is mixed with water to form a spray; some folk believe it should first be mixed with alcohol and then diluted with water to activate the active principles of pyrethrum & cinerin. And some pyrethrum powders are sold in plastic puffer bottles so that a plant can be dusted with the dry powder.