Featherfew, bachelor’s button, virgin chrysanthemum
Feverfew is a perennial shrub, growing into rounded bushes which mature at one to two feet in height, with pungently citrus-scented leaves and a profusion of simple white flowers resembling small daisies. Its leaves are pale green, with ridged edges which bear small silver-blue speckles at the tips. In the wild, it spreads quite rapidly, and will cover a wide area within just a few seasons after its introduction.
On the mainland of Faerun, feverfew is most commonly found in open fields and meadows which receive full unobstructed sunlight. However, it is an impressively adaptable and hardy plant, able to assert itself within a wide range of growing conditions, and the local strain seems to have developed a preference for thickly forested regions where the forest floor receives little direct sunlight. It is apparently unbothered by occasional snow or cold, capable of flourishing even in regions with extreme seasonal variations in temperature.
The medicinal portions of the plant are its leaves, which can simply be plucked whole from their stems; the choicest leaves are those with the brightest blue speckles. They are at their most potent when used fresh, but retain some efficacy through being dried.
Feverfew’s properties as an analgesic are at their most effective when the leaves are decocted and reduced into a smooth blue-green paste. This paste is then often combined with powdered Chinchona Bark in the multipurpose painkiller Midwife’s Helper, or occasionally applied to bandage preparations (though it should be noted that in this application, the paste still functions only as an analgesic, not a healing agent, and that the healing properties of feverfew-treated bandages come entirely from the skilled application of the bandages and accompanying implements). Success as an antipyretic has also been derived from an infusion of feverfew with common sage, most especially in the ‘bird fever’ which afflicted Amia Island in the summer of DR 1381. This preparation was notable in that the decongestant properties of a mundane hot tea were magnified significantly; further study is warranted to determine whether this effect was attributable to that disease being specifically vulnerable to treatment by feverfew, or whether some augmentative reaction is able to be consistently obtained from combining feverfew with sage.
One of the most readily domesticable plants in the herbalist’s arsenal, feverfew is a remarkably accommodating plant which reacts acceptably to garden life and transplanting. Gardeners traditionally report the greatest success planting feverfew bushes in spring, in full sun, just over a foot apart from each other. Bushes should be pruned back to the ground after harvesting each fall, in order to ensure the maximum yield again the following season. Many practitioners have observed that if feverfew is taken for any prolonged time as a medicinal herb, sudden discontinuation can result in a mild withdrawal syndrome, consisting of several days of headache, irritability, trouble sleeping, and joint pain. Also of note is the plant’s use in the making of the perfume known commonly (and perhaps somewhat facetiously) as eau de Cordor, which takes advantage of the leaves’ pleasant citrus scent.