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achillea millefolium - L.

Common Name Yarrow, Boreal yarrow, California yarrow, Giant yarrow, Coast yarrow, Western yarrow, Pacific yarrow
Family Asteraceae or Compositae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards Extended use of this plant, either medicinally or in the diet, can cause allergic skin rashes or lead to photosensitivity in some people[21, 238]. Theoretically yarrow can enhance the sedative effects of other herbs (e.g. valerian, kava, German chamomile, hops) & sedative drugs. Possible sedative & diuretic effects from ingesting large amounts [301].
Habitats Meadows, pastures, lawns etc. on all but the poorest soils[17].
Range Europe, including Britain, north to 71°, and east to western Asia.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
achillea millefolium Yarrow, Boreal yarrow, California yarrow, Giant yarrow, Coast yarrow, Western yarrow, Pacific yarrow


(c) ken Fern, Plants For A Future 2010
achillea millefolium Yarrow, Boreal yarrow, California yarrow, Giant yarrow, Coast yarrow, Western yarrow, Pacific yarrow
(c) Steve Flanagan

 

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Summary

Bloom Color: Pink, White. Main Bloom Time: Early fall, Late summer, Mid summer. Form: Upright or erect.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
achillea millefolium is a PERENNIAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 2 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from June to August, and the seeds ripen from July to September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
It is noted for attracting wildlife.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerate maritime exposure.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Achillea lanulosa Nutt. Achillea gracilis Raf. Achillea albida Willd.

Habitats

 Ground Cover; Lawn; Meadow;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves
Edible Uses: Condiment  Tea

Leaves - raw or cooked[4, 5, 46, 52]. A rather bitter flavour, they make an acceptable addition to mixed salads and are best used when young[9, 183, K]. The leaves are also used as a hop-substitute for flavouring and as a preservative for beer etc[2, 9, 53, 183]. Although in general yarrow is a very nutritious and beneficial plant to add to the diet, some caution should be exercised[K]. See the notes above on possible toxicity. An aromatic tea is made from the flowers and leaves[183]. An essential oil from the flowering heads is used as a flavouring for soft drinks[183].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antidiarrhoeal  Antiinflammatory  Antiseptic  Antispasmodic  Appetizer  Aromatic  Astringent  Carminative  
Cholagogue  Diaphoretic  Digestive  Emmenagogue  Odontalgic  Stimulant  Tonic  
Vasodilator  Vulnerary

Yarrow has a high reputation and is widely employed in herbal medicine, administered both internally and externally. It is used in the treatment of a very wide range of disorders but is particularly valuable for treating wounds, stopping the flow of blood, treating colds, fevers, kidney diseases, menstrual pain etc[218, 238, 254, 257]. The whole plant is used, both fresh and dried, and is best harvested when in flower[222]. Some caution should be exercised in the use of this herb since large or frequent doses taken over a long period may be potentially harmful[222], causing allergic rashes and making the skin more sensitive to sunlight[238]. The herb combines well with Sambucus nigra flowers (Elder) and Mentha x piperita vulgaris (Peppermint) for treating colds and influenza[268]. The herb is antiseptic, antispasmodic, mildly aromatic, astringent, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, digestive, emmenagogue, odontalgic, stimulant, bitter tonic, vasodilator and vulnerary[4, 9, 14, 21, 54, 145, 165, 172, 238, 240, 254]. It also contains the anti-inflammatory agent azulene, though the content of this varies even between plants in the same habitat[238]. The herb is harvested in the summer when in flower and can be dried for later use[4]. The fresh leaf can be applied direct to an aching tooth in order to relieve the pain[268].

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Other Uses

Companion  Compost  Cosmetic  Dye  Essential  Hair  Liquid feed  Repellent

The growing plant repels beetles, ants and flies[14, 99, 172]. The plant has been burnt in order to ward off mosquitoes[257]. A liquid plant feed can be made from the leaves[54]. You fill a container with the leaves and then add some water. Leave it to soak for a week or two and then dilute the rather smelly dark liquid, perhaps 10 - 1 with water though this figure is not crucial[K]. This plant is an essential ingredient of 'Quick Return' herbal compost activator[32]. This is a dried and powdered mixture of several herbs that can be added to a compost heap in order to speed up bacterial activity and thus shorten the time needed to make the compost[K]. The fragrant seeds have been used to impart a pleasant smell indoors[257]. An essential oil obtained from the leaves is used medicinally[17, 46, 61]. The leaves contain from 0.6 to 0.85% essential oil[240]. The leaves have been used as a cosmetic cleanser for greasy skin[268]. Yellow and green dyes are obtained from the flowers[168]. A good ground cover plant, spreading quickly by its roots[208]. A dynamic accumulator gathering minerals or nutrients from the soil and storing them in a more bioavailable form - used as fertilizer or to improve mulch.

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Dynamic accumulator  Food Forest  Ground cover  Scented Plants

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Container, Ground cover, Massing, Seashore, Woodland garden. Succeeds in most soils and situations but prefers a well-drained soil in a sunny position[1, 14]. Shade tolerant[13]. Plants live longer when grown in a poor soil[200] and also do well on lime[208]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[200], they can show distress in very severe droughts but usually recover[190]. It remains green after grass has turned brown in a drought[187]. Plants succeed in maritime gardens[233]. The plant has a very spreading root system and is usually quite invasive[233, K]. A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to about -25°c[187]. Yarrow is an excellent plant for growing in lawns, meadows, orchards etc., it is tolerant of repeated close cutting and of being walked on[20, 54]. It works to improve the soil fertility[20, 54]. A very good companion plant, it improves the health of plants growing nearby and enhances their essential oil content thus making them more resistant to insect predations[14, 18, 20, 53]. There are some named forms, selected for their ornamental value[183, 238]. 'Pink' (syn. 'Rosea') has very aromatic foliage and deep pink flowers[183]. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[200]. A good bee plant, it is an important nectar source for many insects[24]. Special Features: Attractive foliage, Edible, Fragrant foliage, Invasive, Naturalizing, Attracts butterflies, Suitable for cut flowers, Suitable for dried flowers. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 9 through 1. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a runner spreading indefinitely by rhizomes or stolons [1-2]. The root pattern is fibrous dividing into a large number of fine roots [1-2]. The root pattern is rhizomatous with underground stems sending roots and shoots along their length [1-2].

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Propagation

Seed - sow spring or early autumn in a cold frame[133]. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 months[133]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, the divisions can be planted direct into their permanent positions. Divisions succeed at any time of the year. Basal cuttings of new shoots in spring. Very easy, collect the shoots when they are about 10cm tall, potting them up individually in pots and keeping them in a warm but lightly shaded position. They should root within 3 weeks and will be ready to plant out in the summer.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Also known as bloodwort, carpenter's weed, common yarrow, hierba de las cortaduras, milfoil, plumajillo.

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

The plant is often considered to be an aggressive weed and has spread from its original range in Europe and western Asia to many of the places humans have gone to.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : Least Concern

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Achillea ageratumMace, Sweet-nancyPerennial0.6 6-9  LMHNDM20 
Achillea erba-rotta moschataMusk MilfoilPerennial0.2 5-9  LMHNDM02 
Achillea millefoliumYarrow, Boreal yarrow, California yarrow, Giant yarrow, Coast yarrow, Western yarrow, Pacific yarrowPerennial0.6 4-8 FLMHSNDM343
Achillea ptarmicaSneeze-Wort, SneezeweedPerennial0.6 3-9 FLMHNM212
Achillea santolina Perennial0.3 -  LMHNDM01 
Achillea sibiricaSiberian YarrowPerennial0.5 5-9  LMHNDM11 

 

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Expert comment

Achillea millefolium

Administrator .

Mar 27 2011 12:00AM

The flower of the yarrow A mille is used in the biodynamic preparation BD 502. It is said to bring light forces to the soil in the form of potassium and sulphur.

Author

L.

Botanical References

17200

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Si   Thu Jan 19 2006

A very good plant to eat if you are keen on silica and toxic acids.

David Beaulieu   Thu Aug 10 2006

Achillea is literally "the herb of Achilles," that wonderful figure from Greek mythology.

   Apr 18 2012 12:00AM

Do the coloured varieties (eg Lilac Beauty, Red Velvet etc) have the same uses as the wild plant, in terms of medicine/edibility etc? I'm just thinking that growing a recognisably 'ornamental' version of yarrow would mean it wasn't classed as a weed at my allotment.

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