Tanacetum vulgare 'Isla Gold'
Common Name: gold leaf tansy 
Type: Herbaceous perennial
Family: Asteraceae
Zone: 4 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 2.00 feet
Spread: 1.50 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: July to August
Bloom Description: Yellow
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Dry to medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful, Fragrant
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Erosion


Easily grown in average, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Appreciates some afternoon shade in hot summer climates. Prefers moist, humusy soils where it can rapidly spread by rhizomes, but tolerates a wide variety of soils including poor, dry soils where its spreading habit is more restrained. Naturalization into outlying areas primarily occurs by self-seeding, but rhizomatous spread in beds and borders can pose significant problems of control and removal. Shear off spent flowers immediately after bloom in order to control any unwanted self-seeding.

Some gardeners believe the flowers detract from the attractive foliage and accordingly prefer to shear off the flowering stems as soon as they arise.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Tanacetum vulgare, commonly called golden buttons or tansy, is an erect, rhizomatous, weedy perennial with aromatic, fern-like foliage. It typically grows 1-3’ tall. It is native to Europe and Asia, but was brought to the U.S. in colonial times for medicinal and horticultural purposes. Over time, it has escaped gardens and naturalized along roadsides, railroads, waste areas and along streams throughout much of the northern U.S. and southern Canada. Button-like yellow flowers (composites with rays absent or inconspicuous) appear in summer in compact, flat-topped clusters (corymbs). Strongly-scented, pinnately-divided, fern-like green leaves (6-8” long) are somewhat reminiscent of yarrow. Dating back to ancient Greece and Rome, this plant has a long history of use as a folk medicine remedy for a number of problems including plague, colic, parasitic worms, fever, gout, digestive disorders and hysteria. Plant foliage has been used as an insect repellant. Flowers have been used in funeral shrouds and wreaths. Fresh leaves and flowers have been used as a substitute for sage in cooking. Dried leaves have been used to make teas. Notwithstanding its history, current uses of this plant in teas, food and medicine have now virtually disappeared. Plant oils contain an extremely toxic ingredient (thujone) that can be fatal when consumed in large quantities. Synonymous with and formerly known as Chrysanthemum vulgare.

Genus name reportedly is derived from an altered form of the Greek word athanatos meaning long-lasting or immortal in reference to the long-lasting flowers and/or the everlasting qualities of the dried flowers of some species (in particular Tanacetum vulgare).

Specific epithet means common.

'Isla Gold' sometimes called gold leaf tansy, is a somewhat less weedy cultivar which is basically grown in gardens for its attractive golden foliage. It typically grows 1-2' tall and features finely-cut, fern-like, pinnate leaves which are bright gold. Foliage is fragrant when bruised or crushed, but less so than the species. Button-like, yellow flowers (composites with ray flowers absent) appear above the foliage in summer in compact, flat-topped clusters (corymbs) somewhat reminiscent of yarrow.


No serious insect or disease problems. Spider mites can be a problem in some areas. Can be very aggressive in optimum growing conditions.


Naturalized areas or cottage gardens where it can be allowed to freely self-seed and spread. Although no longer used for medicinal purposes, it is still planted in herb gardens. Not recommended for beds or borders where the spreading rhizomes can be difficult to remove.