The genus name Achillea is derived from Achilles, a hero of Greek Mythology who took yarrow into battle with his armies to treat wounds.
The double compound leaves look they’re composed of thousands of tiny leaves.
Mille = thousand. Folium = leaf.
Yarrow is a native plant
The achillea plant is native to Europe and Western Asia, and part of our culture. This is reflected in the myriad common names for this plant in most languages. In English, for example, it’s known as old man’s pepper, devil’s nettle, sanguinary, milfoil, soldier’s woundwort, and thousand seal.
About 10% of all plant species produce essential oils. Yarrow is one such plant, and its anti-inflammatory and analgesic oil is used in cold and flu remedies. Medicinal tea made from yarrow has a diuretic effect.
Works wonders with blood
The green leaves have an astringent effect, and were used to treat wounds many centuries ago.
Taking the juice actually stimulates bleeding, and can even cause a nosebleed. Not surprising then, that one of the names for the plant is ‘Nosebleed’.
Yarrow is considered to have predictive powers in various cultures. Druids, for example, used the dried stems to predict the weather.
The umbels appear from May, and continue to bloom until the first frosty nights. This unusually long flowering period is beneficial for a whole array of insects, including hoverflies, butterflies and wild bees.
Easy garden plant
Achillea millefolium is a hardy plant which does well in a sunny spot, and can easily tolerate a hot, dry summer. The type of soil has little effect, as long as it’s permeable. The Achillea’s Achilles’ heel is being left standing with its roots in water for too long.
Attractive presence in the garden
Create your own natural flower meadow by weaving yarrow through ornamental grasses.
Also good to know; the stems with flowers can be put in a vase.
Plant Achillea in a dry, sunny location.
Make sure the garden soil is well drained.
Give enough water and nutrition when planting. Once the plant is established outside, simply add a little compost every year.
Yarrow used to be an ingredient of beer before brewers discovered the effect of hops.
The Achillea most familiar to garden centres is the ‘Milly Rock’ series. These plants remain quite compact without the need for pruning, they are hardy, and available with red, pink, purple or yellow flowers.
Published on: 6 June 2023