Slight resemblance : The white outer petals of the flowers, like Sneezewort are rather few in number and wider than is usual for a Daisy-type plant, fewer even than the few petals of Feverfew, but they appear cleaner in Feverfew. Also, the central florets of Sneezewort are cream coloured rather than the brilliant yellow of Feverfew.
Uniquely identifiable characteristics
Distinguishing Feature : The few white petals are only about a dozen in number and wider than most daisy-type flowers. Together with the central yellow florets, it is quite distinctive.
This is a garden plant, with short white rays surrounding a set of central yellow disc florets. The rays are often doubled. It is synonymous with chrysanthemum parthenium and with pyrethrum parthenium, and as its latter name suggests contains pyrethrum. Feverfew has a smell reminiscent of camphor.
Feverfew has long been known as a healing herb for a variety of ailments such as headaches, migraine, tinnitus, toothaches, insect bites, psoriasis, asthma, dizziness, arthritis, nausea, vomiting, infertility and problems with menstruation and labour during childbirth. It relieves migraines by preventing the blood vessels within the brain from going into spasm. It can aid digestion and is used in some digestive aperitifs. It can cause problems over prolonged periods of intake. The leaves contain an irritant which can cause mouth ulcers.
It is widely cultivated in large regions of the World for its pharmaceutical properties.
a SESQUITERPENE LACTONE
It contains parthenolide, an allergenic sesquiterpene lactone which has a reactive exo-cyclic methylene group, which can form bonds with the thiol groups in proteins. It also contains an epoxy moiety which is also reactive. Parthenolide, which is named from the specific epithet of Feverfew, parthenium, occurs with greatest concentration in the flowers and fruit of Feverfew. It has a long list of effects on the human body, most presumably deleterious in some way apart from the anti-inflammatory and anti-hyperalgesic effects.
Its botanical name parthenium stems from the Greek word parthenos meaning 'virgin' which alludes to its mediaeval use in treating menstrual problems.
The leaves of Feverfew smell aromatic when crushed.