Herb: Alecost


Latin name: Tanacetum balsamita


Synonyms: Balsamita major, Chrysanthemum balsamita


Family: Compositae



Medicinal use of Alecost:

Alecost is seldom used in herbal medicine, though it does have a beneficial effect upon the digestive system. The leaves are antiseptic, astringent, digestive and laxative. They have been used internally as an aperient in the treatment of dysentery, and as a remedy for liver and gall bladder complaints. Externally, they have been used as a salve to treat burns and insect stings. They are considered to be virtually obsolete in modern herbalism.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Perennial


Height:
90 cm
(2 feet)

Flovering:
September
to October


Scent:
Scented
Perennial

Habitat of the herb:

An introduced weed of roadsides in eastern N. America.

Edible parts of Alecost:

Leaves - raw or used as a flavouring in soups, beer etc. They can be chopped and added sparingly to salads. They have a very pleasant aroma, but can be overpowering in the food if you are not careful. The leaves were at one time widely used in brewing beer, before being superseded by hops (Humulus lupulus). The whole leaves can be laid in cake trays to flavour the cake whilst it is baking. The flower petals are used for conserves. A delicious tea is made from the dried leaves.

Other uses of the herb:

The plant was traditionally used for its insecticidal properties. The dried leaves retain their fragrance well and so are used in pot-pourri, they are also used as a strewing herb.

Propagation of Alecost:

The seed is seldom produced in Britain. If seed is obtained it would probably be best sown in a cold frame in early spring. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, it can be done successfully at almost any time of the year. Larger divisions can be planted out direct into their permanent positions. We have found that it is best to pot up smaller divisions and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse or cold frame until they are growing away well. Plant them out in the summer or the following spring. Basal cuttings in late spring. Harvest the shoots with plenty of underground stem when they are about 8 - 10cm above the ground. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Cultivation of the herb:

An introduced weed of roadsides in eastern N. America.

Known hazards of Tanacetum balsamita:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.