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There's more than one variety of tansy.

COUNTRYSIDE: I read your recommendation to grow plants to attract trichogramma wasps, including tansy. If you mean tansy ragwort that grows rampantly in Oregon, I would never intentionally plant it. It's invasive and hard to eradicate. And worse, poisonous to livestock, causing liver failure.

--Martha Keller, Bandon, Oregon

There are variations of tansy in the U.S. Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) has been used as a medicinal plant and in cooking for centuries. However this too can cause serious side effects in humans (such as miscarriage). It can be used in companion planting, and for biological pest control in organic gardens and sustainable agriculture. It is planted alongside potatoes to repel the Colorado potato beetle, with one study finding tansy reduced the beetle population by 60 to 100%.

It is a perennial, herbaceous flowering plant of the aster family, native to temperate Europe and Asia. It has been introduced to other parts of the world and in some areas has become invasive. It is also known as common tansy, bitter buttons, cow bitter, or golden buttons.

On the other hand, tansy ragwort is common in dry areas of the West, and is indeed poisonous to animals, especially horses and cows. They won't normally eat it because of the bitter flavor, but if it's dried in with the hay, it can present serious health problems.

It would behoove you to research any plant thoroughly before using--especially in cooking or for medicinal purposes. As Martha pointed out, what may be invasive in one part of the country may grow just fine in another region.

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Title Annotation:Country conversation & feedback
Author:Keller, Martha
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Mar 1, 2015
Previous Article:Down on the farm.
Next Article:A reply to water laws.

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