Botanical: Chrysanthemum Parthenium (BERNH.)
Family: N.O. Compositae
---Synonyms---Pyrethrum Parthenium (Sm.). Featherfew.
Featherfoil. Flirtwort. Bachelor's Buttons.
---Description---Feverfew (a corruption of
Febrifuge, from its tonic and fever-dispelling properties) is a
composite plant growing in every hedgerow, with numerous, small,
daisy-like heads of yellow flowers with outer white rays, the central
yellow florets being arranged on a nearly flat receptacle, not
conical as in the chamomiles. The stem is finely furrowed and hairy,
about 2 feet high; the leaves alternate, downy with short hairs, or
nearly smooth-about 4 1/2 inches long and 2 inches broad - bipinnatifid,
with serrate margins, the leaf-stalk being flattened above and convex
beneath. It is not to be confounded with other wild chamomile-like
allied species, which mostly have more feathery leaves and somewhat
large flowers; the stem also is upright, whereas that of the true garden
Chamomile is procumbent. The delicate green leaves are conspicuous even
in mild winter. The whole plant has a strong and bitter smell, and is
particularly disliked by bees. A double variety is cultivated in gardens
for ornamental purposes, and its flower-heads are sometimes substituted
for the double Chamomile.
Country people have long been accustomed to make curative uses of
this herb, which grows abundantly throughout England. Gerard tells us
that it may be used both in drinks, and bound on the wrists is of
singular virtue against the ague.
Pyrethrum is derived from the Greek pur (fire), in
allusion to the hot taste of the root.
---Cultivation---Feverfew is a perennial,
and herbaceous in habit. When once planted it gives year after year an
abundant supply of blossoms with only the merest degree of attention.
Planting may be done in autumn, but the best time is about the end of
April. Any ordinary good soil is suitable, but better results are
obtained when well-drained, and of a stiff, loamy character, enriched
with good manure. Weeding should be done by hand, the plants when first
put out being small might be injured by hoeing.
There are three methods of propagation: by seed, by division of roots
and by cuttings. If grown by seed, it should be sown in February
or March, thinned out to 2 to 3 inches between the plants, and planted
out early in June to permanent quarters, allowing a foot or more between
the plants and 2 feet between the rows, selecting, if possible, a
showery day for the operation. They will establish themselves quickly.
To propagate by division, lift the plants in March, or whenever
the roots are in an active condition, and with a sharp spade, divide
them into three or five fairly large pieces. Cuttings should be
made from the young shoots that start from the base of the plant, and
should be taken with a heel of the old plant attached, which will
greatly assist their rooting. They may be inserted at any time from
October to May. The foliage must be shortened to about 3 inches, when
the cuttings will be ready for insertion in a bed of light, sandy soil,
in the open. Plant very firmly, surface the bed with sand, and water in
well. Shade is necessary while the cuttings are rooting.
Keep a good watch at all times for snails, slugs and black fly. For
the latter pest, try peppering the plants; for the others use soot,
ashes or lime. Toads will keep a garden free of slugs.
'A few pots placed on their sides may be dotted about the garden, and
it will be found that the toads will sit in these when they are not
hunting around for their prey. The creatures are not at all likely to
leave the garden, seeing that if the supply of slugs runs short they
will turn their attention to all kinds of insects.' (S. L. B.)
---Medicinal Action and Uses---Aperient,
carminative, bitter. As a stimulant it is usefulas an emmenagogue. Is
also employed in hysterical complaints, nervousness and lowness of
spirits, and is a general tonic. The cold infusion is made from 1 OZ. of
the herb to a pint of boiling water, allowed to cool, and taken
frequently in doses of half a teacupful.
A decoction with sugar or honey is said to be good for coughs,
wheezing and difficult breathing. The herb, bruised and heated, or fried
with a little wine and oil, has been employed as a warm external
application for wind and colic.
A tincture made from Feverfew and applied locally immediately
relieves the pain and swelling caused by bites of insects and vermin. It
is said that if two teaspoonfuls of tincture are mixed with 1/2 pint of
cold water, and all parts of the body likely to be exposed to the bites
of insects are freely sponged with it, they will remain unassailable. A
tincture of the leaves of the true Chamomile and of the German Chamomile
will have the same effect.
Planted round dwellings, it is said to purify the atmosphere and ward
An infusion of the flowers, made with boiling water and allowed to
become cold, will allay any distressing sensitiveness to pain in a
highly nervous subject, and will afford relief to the face-ache or
earache of a dyspeptic or rheumatic person.
---Preparations---Fluid extract: dose, 1 to
SWEET FEVERFEW (Chrysanthemum Suaveolens) and C. maritima,
found by the seashore, especially in the north, with leaves broader,
more fleshy, succulent and smaller flowerheads than the Common Feverfew.