Lake Huron tansy

Tanacetum bipinnatum

Common Name: Lake Huron tansy; Eastern tansy

  • Yellow, button-shaped flowers.
  • Threatened species in Michigan.
  • Highly aromatic and hairy throughout.
  • Found around the Straits of Mackinac and the Michigan and Canadian shores of Lakes Superior.

Native or Invasive: Native perennial

Characteristics: The yellow, button-shaped flowers sit atop a robust plant with dissected leaves. The highly aromatic tansy is hairy throughout. It can be 4-32 inches tall, arising from a rhizome (an underground, creeping horizontal stem). The flowers are about the size of a nickel. There are 3-20 flowers on each plant, if it flowers.

It withstands some high-water wave action. In the Great Lakes, the Lake Huron tansy has a limited range, but this same species can be found from Maine and Nova Scotia to Hudson Bay and Alaska.

Habitat: Sandy, cobble beaches and dunes.

Fun Fact: The Lake Huron tansy thrives in the chaotic atmosphere along the shore — active, moving sand dunes encourage flowering even if part of the plant is buried in the sand. In fact, it does not flower well at stable sites with little blowing sand.

Ethnobotanical Uses: None listed, but the common tansy has been used as a cleansing wash and to treat backaches, soothe cuts and bruises, calm dizziness and prevent pregnancy.

Adapted from Guide to Great Lakes Coastal Plants, by Ellen Elliott Weatherbee, University of Michigan Press.