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These plants, funghi and insect illustrations
are part of my botanical oracle deck

Tanacetum parthenium | Feverfew

Botanical Overview of Feverfew

  • Scientific Name: Tanacetum parthenium

  • Common Names: Feverfew, Featherfew, Featherfoil, Wild Chamomile, Bachelor’s Buttons

  • Family: Asteraceae (Daisy family)

  • Description: Feverfew is a short, bushy perennial herb, typically growing to about 30-60 cm in height. It has finely divided, bright green leaves with a distinctive aromatic scent reminiscent of camphor or citrus. The plant produces numerous small, daisy-like flowers with white petals and yellow centers, blooming from early summer to fall. The flowers are similar in appearance to those of chamomile but are slightly larger and more robust. Feverfew is often cultivated for its ornamental value as well as its medicinal properties.

tanacetum parthenium botanical illustration

Properties of Feverfew

  • Chemical Constituents: Contains sesquiterpene lactones (notably parthenolide), flavonoids, volatile oils, and tannins. Parthenolide is considered the primary active component responsible for Feverfew’s therapeutic effects, particularly its anti-inflammatory and migraine-preventive properties.

  • Edibility: While Feverfew leaves and flowers are not typically consumed for their flavor, they have been used in herbal teas and as medicinal additives. The leaves are quite bitter and should be used cautiously to avoid potential irritation to the mouth or digestive system. Fresh leaves have traditionally been chewed to relieve headaches and migraines, though this is not commonly recommended due to potential side effects.

Distribution and Habitat of Feverfew

  • Native Range: Southern Europe and the Balkans.

  • Preferred Habitat: Feverfew thrives in well-drained, fertile soil and is commonly found in gardens, meadows, and along roadsides. It prefers full sun to partial shade and can grow in a variety of soil types, including sandy or loamy soils. The plant is quite hardy and can tolerate some drought, making it a versatile addition to both cultivated and wild landscapes. Feverfew is often grown as a garden ornamental for its attractive flowers and beneficial insect-repelling properties.

Medicinal Properties and Uses of Feverfew

  • Traditional Uses: Feverfew has been used for centuries in traditional medicine, primarily as a remedy for fevers, migraines, and inflammatory conditions. The name "Feverfew" derives from its historical use in treating fevers. It was also employed to relieve arthritis, muscle tension, and menstrual cramps. The herb was commonly used as a general tonic to promote overall well-being and to aid in the treatment of digestive issues and skin conditions.

  • Modern Applications: Today, Feverfew is most well-known for its use in preventing and managing migraines. Clinical studies have shown that regular use of Feverfew can reduce the frequency and severity of migraines, likely due to its anti-inflammatory and vasodilatory effects. The herb is also used to alleviate symptoms of arthritis and to reduce inflammation in various conditions. Feverfew is available in various forms, including capsules, tablets, and tinctures, and is often included in herbal blends for its calming and anti-inflammatory properties. Despite its benefits, it is important to use Feverfew under guidance, as it can cause side effects such as mouth sores or gastrointestinal discomfort in some individuals.

Magical Correspondences and Uses in Magical Practice of Feverfew

  • Element: Air

  • Planet: Venus

  • Magical Properties: Protection, healing, purification, and warding off negativity.

  • Uses: Feverfew is revered in magical practices for its strong protective qualities. It is often used in charms, amulets, or sachets to safeguard individuals and homes from harm, illness, and misfortune. The plant's connection to Venus imbues it with energies of healing and love, making it suitable for rituals aimed at promoting well-being and harmony. Feverfew can be used in spells and incenses to cleanse and purify spaces, driving away negative energies and influences. The herb is also associated with clarity and peace of mind, making it a valuable tool in meditative and calming practices. Its protective nature makes it a common addition to protective boundaries and to safeguard against psychic attacks. In folk magic, Feverfew was often planted around homes to keep the household safe and to attract good health and positive energy.

Folklore, Legends, and Mythology of Feverfew

  • Historical Context: Feverfew has a rich history in folklore and was commonly grown in medieval gardens for its medicinal and protective qualities. It was believed to ward off evil spirits and protect against witchcraft.

  • Folklore: In various European traditions, Feverfew was used to drive away evil spirits and bad luck. It was often hung in doorways or carried in pockets as a talisman against disease and ill fortune. The herb was also believed to bring peace and calm to the household and was used to settle disputes and promote harmonious relationships. In some cultures, Feverfew was associated with fairies and was thought to attract their benevolent influence.

  • Mythology: While Feverfew does not feature prominently in classical mythology, it has a strong presence in folklore related to healing and protection. Its association with Venus highlights its role in promoting love and harmony, and its use in traditional medicine reflects its enduring reputation as a potent healing herb. Feverfew’s ability to thrive in various conditions symbolizes resilience and adaptability, reinforcing its use in protective and healing rituals.

Historical Literary Sources

  • "Culpeper’s Complete Herbal" by Nicholas Culpeper (1653): Provides insights into the medicinal uses of Feverfew, particularly its applications in treating fevers, migraines, and inflammation.

  • "De Materia Medica" by Dioscorides (1st century AD): An ancient text that details the uses of various herbs, including Feverfew, in traditional medicine.

  • "A Modern Herbal" by Maud Grieve (1931): Explores the historical and modern applications of Feverfew, emphasizing its role in folk medicine and its therapeutic properties.


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