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PyrethrumTanacetum cinerariifolium

Originally from the Balkans and sometimes still known as Dalmatian pellitory, pyrethrum has been used as a pesticide since at least 1697. African Americans burned this flower to repel and kill mosquitoes indoors (it still goes into old-fashioned mosquito coils), and British country folk mixed the plant with bedding for animals to help repel ticks and other vermin, and hung it from the rafters to help repel bugs in the house. Sounds like it would have made a fine strewing herb as well. The advantages of this insecticide are that you grow it yourself, so you are not dependent on the pesticide industry, and it biodegrades, especially in the presence of light. It's one of the few pesticides that is allowed around food. There is a big difference between pyrethrins, which come from plants, and pyrethroids, which are manufactured in a chemical plant. Pyrethrins are toxic to fish but only mildly toxic to birds and mammals. Some information says that you can grow this to repel insects in your garden. That is no more true of this plant than of other members of this family that are aromatic, like tansy. It is the drying and powdering that turns the flowers into good pesticidal material. Most of the toxic chemicals in this flower are located in parts that don't come into contact with pollinating insects, so you don't have to worry about this plant hurting bees in your garden, either. Because of its mundane uses, consider this Sun herb for magical protection and banishing--nice for garden borders for that reason. Also known as Dalmatian insect flower, Dalamtian pyrethrum, Pyrethrum cinerariifolium, Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium.

How to Grow Pyrethrum
Barely cover to germinate in 14-28 days at room temperature. Transplant out to full sun. This plant likes rocky, dry soil and not a lot of humidity. It gets 14-18"/35-45cm tall and 24"/60cm wide. Pyrethrum is a perennial hardy to -35F/-35C (zone 3), but it does not like the humid South. Pick the flower heads when open; dry them and store in a jar to be powdered or crumbled when necessary. They stay good for years. The yellow centers have more pesticide than the white rays. Even though this is a low-harm pesticide, don't be careless with it.  General growing info

Tanacetum cinerariifolium
100 seeds $3.50

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Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:

Sun Herb

2010, 2018 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction without permission