Blackened Tansy Seed Heads


While out on the Leslie Street Spit this past holiday weekend, I noticed that most of the tansy flower heads were turning black. I don’t grow tansy in any of my gardens and have never observed this detail while out walking the railroad tracks in my area where tansy grows wild and abundantly. In the past I’d swear they aged towards a warmer, less haggard shade of brown as the season wrapped up. But maybe I’m wrong and what I really need to do is get myself started on a daily regimen of Ginkgo biloba supplements and craploads of omega-3 fatty acids, stat!

Tansy is known for being distinctly disease and pest resistant, a feature that makes it a great herbal pest spray when brewed into a tea. I have been unable to find any information about possible tansy diseases and am chalking this up to the drought and humidity we experienced in late august when the plants were in full bloom. But of course tansy is also known for being incredibly drought tolerant and I think their survival in the wasteland along the railroad tracks is good evidence of that. So maybe circular logic is bringing me back to my original conclusion which is that I have simply stumbled upon an observation that I either failed to make in the past or one that was previously made but forgotten.

In conclusion: I smart.

Regardless, I really liked the look of fields dotted with thin clusters of blackened tansies poking through wild grass and aging goldenrod.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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7 thoughts on “Blackened Tansy Seed Heads

  1. We have tansy in abundance here in North Bay, and I don’t remember ever seeing this either. Weird.

    As an aside I love the plant, and it is hardly ever given the praise that it is due. :)

  2. I hope that you are talking about the Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)! In the State of Washington Tansy Ragwort is a noxious weed, not native and very invasive. We pull everyone that we find in our immediate area as we don’t want it to spread anymore than it already has! It can be poisonous to cattle and horses.

  3. I’m talking about common tansy, which apparently can also be toxic for livestock, as is St John’s wort. That being said, tansy and St John’s wort are staples for many herbalists.

    Tansy, just like many other weeds are just seen as a nuisance, and very few appreciate the healing properties that they have. It seems that everyone would prefer to be have boring, manicured lawns and place blind faith into pharmaceuticals.

  4. PLEASE have an art show to share your incredibly beautiful photography. I’d love to see these projected huge or framed small, but boy are your photos gorgeous.

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