Is Pyrethrum a Safe Organic Pesticide?
By: Julie Day
What is pyrethrum? Is it a safe organic pesticide?
Pyrethrum refers to the Pyrethrum daisy (Chrysanthemum cinerariifolium) from which the insecticidal compound is extracted. Also nicknamed Dalmatian chrysanthemum, this perennial daisy is loaded with chemicals called pyrethrins that are toxic to insects. Since it is directly extracted from a plant, and since it is considered nontoxic to humans, pyrethrum is approved in the U.S. for use on certified organic farms.
If you start reading pesticide labels, all the “P” words will get pretty confusing! Common ingredients include:
- Pyrethrum: The general name for an insecticide derived from the Pyrethrum daisy.
- Pyrethrins: The active chemicals in pyrethrum. “Pyrethrum” and “pyrethrin” are often used interchangeably.
- Pyrethroids: Synthetic pyrethrins. They are much more toxic than natural pyrethrins and are not approved for organic gardening.
- Permethrin: An example of a synthetic pyrethroid, not to be confused with its natural counterpart!
Here are some properties to consider about pyrethrum and pyrethrins:
- Growing Pyrethrum: You can grow Pyrethrum daisies in your own garden to repel pests, and you can even harvest and dry the flowers to grind into your own insecticidal powder. They’re pretty plants, with lovely white daisy blossoms with yellow centers.
- Pyrethrum Cultivation (gardenguides.com)
- How Green is Pyrethrum for Organic Insect Control? (planetgreen.com)