Achillea millefolium, commonly known as yarrow (//) or common yarrow, is a flowering plant in the family Asteraceae. Other common names include old man's pepper, devil's nettle, sanguinary, milfoil, soldier's woundwort, and thousand seal.
Achillea millefolium is an erect, herbaceous, perennial plant that produces one to several stems 0.2–1 metre (8–40 inches) in height, and has a spreading rhizomatous growth form. Leaves are evenly distributed along the stem, with the leaves near the middle and bottom of the stem being the largest. The leaves have varying degrees of hairiness (pubescence). The leaves are 5–20 centimetres (2–8 in) long, bipinnate or tripinnate, almost feathery, and arranged spirally on the stems. The leaves are cauline, and more or less clasping, being more petiolate near the base.
The inflorescence has 4 to 9 phyllaries and contains ray and disk flowers which are white to pink, blooming from March to October. There are generally 3 to 8 ray flowers, which are 3 millimetres (1⁄8 in) long and ovate to round. The tiny disk flowers range from 10 to 40. The inflorescence is produced in a flat-topped capitulum cluster and the inflorescences are visited by many insects, featuring a generalized pollination system. The small achene-like fruits are called cypsela.
- Achillea millefolium subsp. millefolium
- A. millefolium subsp. chitralensis – western Himalaya
- A. millefolium subsp. sudetica – Alps, Carpathians
- Achillea millefolium var. alpicola – Western United States, Alaska
- Achillea millefolium var. californica – California, Pacific Northwest
- Achillea millefolium var. occidentalis – North America
- Achillea millefolium var. pacifica – west coast of North America, Alaska
- Achillea millefolium var. puberula – endemic to California
The genus name Achillea is derived from mythical Greek character Achilles, who reportedly carried it with his army to treat battle wounds. The specific epithet millefolium as well as the common names milfoil and thousand leaf come from the featherlike leaves which are minutely divided.
The English name yarrow comes from its Saxon (Old English) name gearwe, which is related to both the Dutch word gerw (alternately yerw) and the Old High German word garawa. In the eastern counties it may be called yarroway. In France, it was called 'herbe de St. Joseph' after a Christian revision of the Achilles story, in which Jesus uses the plant to heal his adoptive father. It has also been called 'carpenter's weed' in this regard.
Distribution and habitat
Yarrow grows from sea level to 3,500 m (11,500 ft) in elevation. Common yarrow is frequently found in the mildly disturbed soil of grasslands and open forests. Active growth occurs in the spring.
The plant is native to Eurasia and is found widely from the UK to China.
In North America, both native and introduced genotypes, and both diploid and polyploid plants are found. It is found in every habitat throughout California except the Colorado and Mojave Deserts. Common yarrow produces an average yield of 110,000 plants per hectare (43,000/acre), with a total dry weight of 11,800 kg/ha (10,500 pounds per acre).
Several cavity-nesting birds, including the common starling, use yarrow to line their nests. Experiments conducted on the tree swallow, which does not use yarrow, suggest that adding yarrow to nests inhibits the growth of parasites.
Achillea millefolium is a food source for many species of insects.
The larvae of the moths Bucculatrix clavenae, B. cristatella, B. fatigatella, B. humiliella, B. latviaella, Cnephasia abrasana, Cochylimorpha elongana, Coleophora argentula, C. carelica, C. ditella, C. expressella, C. follicularis, C. gardesanella, C. millefolii, C. partitella, C. ptarmicia, C. quadristraminella, C. succursella, C. vibicigerella, Depressaria olerella, D. silesiaca, Dichrorampha alpinana (broad-blotch drill), D. petiverella, D. vancouverana (tanacetum root moth), Eupithecia millefoliata (yarrow pug), E. nanata (narrow-winged pug), Gillmeria pallidactyla, Idaea pallidata, Isidiella nickerlii, Loxostege manualis, Phycitodes maritima, P. saxicola, Pyncostola bohemiella, Sophronia sicariellus and Thetidia smaragdaria (Essex emerald) feed on Achillea millefolium in Europe.
The larvae of Chlorochlamys chloroleucaria (blackberry looper), Coleophora quadruplex and Sparganothoides lentiginosana (lentiginos moth) feed on A. millefolium in North America.
Other species of moths with a more cosmopolitan distribution include Aethes smeathmanniana (Smeathmann's aethes moth), Chloroclystis v-ata (v-pug), Choristoneura diversana, Cochylidia richteriana, Epiblema graphana, Eupithecia succenturiata (bordered pug), E. vulgata (common pug), Jordanita budensis and Thiodia citrana (lemon bell). The Noctuid Agrotis stigmosa has also been reared on A. millefolium.
Cassida denticollis, Galeruca tanaceti, Hypocassida subferruginea and Phytoecia virgula are cosmopolitan species of beetles that feed on A. millefolium.
Chrysanthia viridissima is a European species whose adults can be found feeding on pollen and nectar.
Trichodes ornatus (ornate checkered beetle) is a species found in North America whose adults can be found feeding on A. millefolium.
- True bugs
Horistus orientalis is a species of plant bugs that feeds on A. millefolium.
Hedychrum rutilans is a species of cuckoo wasps whose adults can be found feeding on A. millefolium in Europe and North Africa.
Achillea millefolium is cultivated as an ornamental plant by many plant nurseries. It is planted in gardens and natural landscaping settings of diverse climates and styles. They include native plant, drought-tolerant, and wildlife gardens. The plant is a frequent component of butterfly gardens. The plant prefers well-drained soil in full sun, but can be grown in less ideal conditions.
For propagation, seeds require light for germination, so optimal germination occurs when planted no deeper than 6 mm (1⁄4 in). Seeds also require a germination temperature of 18–24 °C (64–75 °F). It has a relatively short life in some situations, but may be prolonged by division in the spring every other year, and planting 30 to 46 cm (12–18 in) apart. It can become invasive.
The species use in traditional gardens has generally been superseded by cultivars with specific 'improved' qualities. Some are used as drought-tolerant lawn replacements, with periodic mowing. The many different ornamental cultivars include: 'Paprika', 'Cerise Queen', 'Red Beauty', 'Red Velvet', 'Saucy Seduction', 'Strawberry Seduction' (red), 'Island Pink' (pink), and 'Calistoga' (white), and 'Sonoma Coast' (white). The following are recipients of the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit:
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, yarrow is toxic to dogs, cats, and horses, causing increased urination, vomiting, diarrhea and dermatitis. When consumed by cows, an unfavorable flavor is given to their milk. In a standard rodent model for reproductive toxicity, aqueous extracts of yarrow produced a significant increase in the percentage of abnormal sperm.
A. millefolium was used in traditional medicine, in part due to its astringent properties and the mild laxative effect of its leaves. Yarrow and its North American varieties were traditionally used by many Native American nations. The Navajo historically considered it a "life medicine" and chewed the plant for toothaches and used its infusions for earaches. The Miwok in California used the plant as an analgesic and head cold remedy. Native American nations used the plant for healing cuts and abrasions, relief from earaches and throat infections, as well as for an eyewash. Common yarrow was used by Plains indigenous peoples to reduce pain or fever and aid sleep.
In the early 20th century, some Ojibwe people used a decoction of yarrow leaves on hot stones and inhaled it to treat headaches, or applied decoctions of the root onto skin for its stimulating effect.
The entire plant is reportedly edible and nutritious, but it is advised not to consume much. The foliage is pungent; both its leaves and flowers are bitter and astringent. The leaves can be eaten young; raw, they can be added to salad. The leaves, with an aniseed-grass flavour, can be brewed as tea.
In the Middle Ages, yarrow was part of a herbal mixture known as gruit used in the flavoring of beer prior to the use of hops. The flowers and leaves are used in making some liquors and bitters.
Yarrow is considered an especially useful companion plant, attracting beneficial insects and repelling some pests. It attracts predatory wasps, which drink the nectar and then use insect pests as food for their larvae. Similarly, it attracts ladybirds and hoverflies.
A. millefolium can be planted to combat soil erosion due to the plant's resistance to drought. Before the arrival of monocultures of ryegrass, both grass and pasture contained A. millefolium at a density of about 0.3 kg/ha. One factor for its use in grass mixtures was its deep roots, with leaves rich in minerals, minimizing mineral deficiencies in ruminant feed. It was introduced into New Zealand as a drought-tolerant pasture.
Some pick-up sticks are made of yarrow.
In antiquity, the plant was known as 'herba militaris' for its use in stanching the flow of blood from wounds. Other names implying its historical use in healing—particularly in the military—include bloodwort, knight's milfoil, staunchweed, and, from its use in the US Civil War, soldier's woundwort. Its use in either starting or stopping nosebleeds led to the common name nosebleed. For its association with the Abrahamic devil it was called bad man's plaything, devil's nettle, and devil's plaything. It was called old man's pepper due to its pungent flavor, while the name field hop came from its use in beer making in Sweden.
Ireland and Great Britain
- Yarrow, sweet yarrow, the first that I have found,
in the name of Jesus Christ, I pluck it from the ground;
As Joseph loved sweet Mary, and took her for his dear,
so in a dream this night, I hope, my true love will appear.
and go to sleep with the yarrow under the pillow.
- Thou pretty herb of Venus' tree,
Thy true name is yarrow;
Now who my bosom friend may be,
Pray tell thou me to-morrow.
then retire for the night without speaking and go to sleep with an ounce of yarrow sewn in flannel under the pillow.
In Suffolk a leaf was placed in the nose so it would bleed, while reciting
- Green 'arrow, green 'arrow, you bears a white blow,
If my love love me, my nose will bleed now;
If my love don't love me, it 'on't bleed a drop,
If my love do love me, 'twill bleed every drop.
In Dublin on May Day or the night before, women would place a stocking full of yarrow under their pillow and recite:
- Good morrow, good yarrow, good morrow to thee,
I hope by the yarrow my lover to see;
And that he may be married to me.
The colour of his hair and the clothes he does wear,
And if he be for me may his face be turned to me,
And if he be not, dark and surely may he be,
And his back be turned toward me.
In the witchcraft trial of Elspeth Reoch in March 1616, she was alleged to have plucked "melefour," thought to be another name for yarrow, and said "In nomine Patris, Fiili, et Spiritus Sancti" to become able to cure distemper (disorders of the four humours) and impart the faculty of prediction.
Yarrow was thought to bring luck due to being, according to one woman cited by James Britten, "the first herb our Saviour put in His hand when a child." This is apparently a corruption of the Achilles myth.
- Maiz-Tome, L. (2016). "Achillea millefolium". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T202909A78457012. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-1.RLTS.T202909A78457012.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
- "Missouri Botanical Gardens".
- Flora of North America Editorial Committee (ed.). "Achillea millefolium". Flora of North America North of Mexico (FNA). New York and Oxford. Retrieved 31 January 2013 – via eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
- Taylor, Ronald J. (1994) . Sagebrush Country: A Wildflower Sanctuary (rev. ed.). Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Pub. Co. p. 158. ISBN 0-87842-280-3. OCLC 25708726.
- Spellenberg, Richard (2001) . National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers: Western Region (rev ed.). Knopf. p. 352. ISBN 978-0-375-40233-3.
- Van Der Kooi, C. J.; Pen, I.; Staal, M.; Stavenga, D. G.; Elzenga, J. T. M. (2015). "Competition for pollinators and intra-communal spectral dissimilarity of flowers". Plant Biology. 18 (1): 56–62. doi:10.1111/plb.12328. PMID 25754608.
- Michler, Barbara; Arnold, Carl-Gerold (1999). "Predicting Presence of Proazulenes in the Achillea millefolium Group". Folia Geobotanica. 34 (1): 143–161. doi:10.1007/BF02803081. JSTOR 4201352. S2CID 12541991.
- Home Herbal: Cook, Brew & Blend Your Own Herbs. DK Pub. 2011. ISBN 978-0-7566-7183-9.
- USDA Plants Profile for Achillea millefolium var. alpicola (common yarrow) . accessed 31 January 2013
- Profile for Achillea millefolium var. californica (California yarrow) . accessed 31 January 2013
- Tropicos: Achillea millefolium var. californica . accessed 31 January 2013
- Bert Wilson (29 July 2012). "Las Pilitas Nursery horticultural treatment: Achillea millefolium var. californica". Laspilitas.com. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- USDA Plants Profile for Achillea millefolium var. occidentalis (western yarrow). Accessed 31 January 2013.
- USDA Plants Profile for Achillea millefolium var. pacifica (Pacific yarrow) . accessed 31 January 2013
- USDA Plants Profile for Achillea millefolium var. puberula . Accessed 31 January 2013.
- Chandler; Hooper; Harvey (1982). "Ethnobotany and phytochemistry of yarrow, Achillea millefolium, compositae". Economic Botany. 36 (2): 203–223. doi:10.1007/BF02858720. S2CID 27867476.
- Grieve, Maud (1931). A Modern Herbal.
- Yarrow. Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.).
- Taliesin, David (27 May 2017). "Yarrow: Herbe de St. Joseph, Carpenter's Weed". Sabbats and Sabbaths. Retrieved 19 July 2022.
- Alan S. Weakley (April 2008). "Flora of the Carolinas, Virginia, and Georgia, and Surrounding Areas".
- Jepson Manual treatment for ACHILLEA millefolium . accessed 31 January 2013
- Calflora database: Achillea millefolium . Accessed 31 January 2013.
- "A Grower's Guide_Yarrow_Achillea millefolium" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 October 2013. Retrieved 27 August 2013.
- "RNZIH – Horticulture Pages – Weeds – Achillea millefolium – yarrow". www.rnzih.org.nz. Retrieved 2 September 2015.
- Shutler D, Campbell AA (2007). "Experimental addition of greenery reduces flea loads in nests of a non-greenery using species, the tree swallow Tachycineta bicolor". Journal of Avian Biology. 38 (1): 7–12. doi:10.1111/j.2007.0908-8857.04015.x.
- Lafontaine, J. D., 2004. Noctuoidea, Noctuidae (part): Noctuinae, Agrotini in Hodges, R. W., ed., The Moths of North America, fasc. 27.1
- "Missouri Botanical Garden horticultural treatment: Achillea millefolium". Retrieved 31 January 2013.
- "Fine Gardening magazine Plant Guide – Achillea millefolium (Yarrow)". Retrieved 31 January 2013.
- "Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center Native Plant Database: Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)". Retrieved 31 January 2013.
- USDA, NRCS. 2006. The PLANTS Database (http://plants.usda.gov, 22 May 2006). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
- RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 978-1-4053-3296-5.
- San Marcos Growers horticulture – The Yarrow Lawn. Accessed 31 January 2013.
- "Missouri Botanical Garden horticultural treatment: Achillea millefolium 'Paprika'". Missouribotanicalgarden.org. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- "Missouri Botanical Garden horticultural treatment: Achillea millefolium 'Red Beauty'". Missouribotanicalgarden.org. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- RHS: Achillea millefolium 'Red Velvet'
- Bert Wilson (8 January 2012). "Las Pilitas Nursery: Achillea millefolium rosea Island Pink (Pink Yarrow)". Laspilitas.com. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- "California Natives Wiki: Achillea millefolium 'Calistoga'". Theodorepayne.org. 19 August 2010. Archived from the original on 21 March 2015. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- "California Natives Wiki: Achillea millefolium 'Sonoma Coast'". Theodorepayne.org. 19 August 2010. Archived from the original on 21 March 2015. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- "Achillea 'Credo'". RHS. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
- "Achillea 'Lachsschönheit' (Galaxy Series)". RHS. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
- "Achillea 'Martina'". RHS. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
- "Achillea millefolium 'Lansdorferglut'". RHS. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
- Clausen, Ruth Rogers; Ekstrom, Nicolas H. (1989). Perennials for American gardens. New York: Random House. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-394-55740-3.
- Monrovia Growers: Achillea x 'Moonshine' – Moonshine Yarrow.
- Hausbn, B. M.; Bheuer, J.; Weglewski, J.; Rucker, G. (1991). "α-Peroxyachifolid and other new sensitizing sesquiterpene lactones from yarrow (Achillea millefolium L., Compositae)". Contact Dermatitis. 24 (4): 274–280. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0536.1991.tb01722.x. ISSN 0105-1873. PMID 1868717. S2CID 24643321.
- Tjandra, Cornelia (16 May 2019). "Yarrow, a Delicious and Nutritious Panacea". Eat The Planet. Retrieved 21 July 2022.
- "Toxic and Non-Toxic Plants: Yarrow". ASPCA.
- Reiner, Ralph E. (1969). Introducing the Flowering Beauty of Glacier National Park and the Majestic High Rockies. Glacier Park, Inc. p. 16.
- Dalsenter P, Cavalcanti A, Andrade A, Araújo S, Marques M (2004). "Reproductive evaluation of aqueous crude extract of Achillea millefolium L. (Asteraceae) in Wistar rats". Reprod Toxicol. 18 (6): 819–23. doi:10.1016/j.reprotox.2004.04.011. PMID 15279880.
- "Common Yarrow". Natural History of Orange County, California. Retrieved 21 July 2022.
- University of Michigan – Dearborn: Native American Ethnobotany; Achillea millefolium. Accessed 31 January 2013.
- Faran, Mina; Tcherni, Anna (1997). Medicinal herbs in Modern Medicine (ṣimḥei marpé bir'fū'ah ha-modernīt) (in Hebrew). Vol. 1. Jerusalem: Akademon (Hebrew University of Jerusalem). p. 242. ISBN 965-350-068-6. OCLC 233179155., s.v. Achillea millefolium
- Densmore, Frances, 1928, Uses of Plants by the Chippewa Indians, SI-BAE Annual Report #44:273–379, page 336
- Densmore, Frances, 1928, Uses of Plants by the Chippewa Indians, SI-BAE Annual Report #44:273–379, p. 350
- "Common Yarrow: Pictures, Flowers, Leaves & Identification | Achillea millefolium". Edible Wild Food. Retrieved 1 July 2022.
- Benoliel, Doug (2011). Northwest Foraging: The Classic Guide to Edible Plants of the Pacific Northwest (Rev. and updated ed.). Seattle, WA: Skipstone. p. 179. ISBN 978-1-59485-366-1. OCLC 668195076.
- Lanneskog, Thor (5 October 2015). "This Is Genuine Viking Beer". ThorNews. Retrieved 5 October 2015.
- Kiumarsi; Abomahboub; Rashedi; Parvinzadeh (2009). "Achillea Millefolium, a New Source of Natural Dye for Wool Dyeing". Progress in Color, Colorants and Coatings. 2 (2): 87–93.
- Dodson & Dunmire, 2007, Mountain Wildflowers of the Southern Rockies, UNM Press, ISBN 978-0-8263-4244-7
- Britten, James (1878). Folk-Lore Record. Vol. 1. Folklore Enterprises, Ltd., Taylor & Francis. pp. 32, 156–157. doi:10.1080/17441994.1878.10602548. JSTOR 1252356.
- Homer. Iliad. pp. 11.828–832.
- "Chinese Superstitions". Chinatownconnection.com. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- "Introduction to the I Ching – By Richard Wilhelm". Iging.com. Retrieved 19 May 2013.
- Margaret Baker (October 1971). Discovering the Folklore of Plants (revised ed.). Shire Publications. SBN 852630806.