Names: febrifuge plant, wild quinine,
bachelor’s button; Mutterkraut (German);
grande camomille (French); erba madre,
camomilla grande (Italian); altamisa mexicana
Properties: bitter, anti-inflammatory,
analgesic, tranquilizer, emmenogogue, carminative, purgative
History: Originally from the Balkan peninsula and western Asia, the herb grows wild all over the northern hemisphere. The generic name is of uncertain origin, but may come from tanaos an altered form of “athanasia” meaning longlived because of the duration of flowering; its emmenagogic property is associated with the Greek parthenos, virgin. The Greeks called it pyrethron, probably from pyro, meaning “fire”, descriptive of its taste. This became pyrethrum to the Romans. Feverfew was first designated botanically as Matricarea as a close relative of chamomile. Since then, it’s been joined with the chrysanthemums and the pyrethrums. Old England knew it as featherfoil which became featherfew and eventually feverfew. It was after the plant acquired the name that herbalists tried using it for fevers In the Victorian language of flowers feverfew stands for fire, warmth, protection.