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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
Synonyms Achillea lanulosa Nutt. Achillea gracilis Raf. Achillea albida Willd.
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  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun

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 2 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jun to August, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.It is noted for attracting wildlife.


USDA hardiness zone : 4-8


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.

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
   
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].
Other Uses
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].
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.
                                                                                 
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.
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Expert comment                                         
 
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                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[2]Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[5]Mabey. R. Food for Free.
Edible wild plants found in Britain. Fairly comprehensive, very few pictures and rather optimistic on the desirability of some of the plants.
[9]Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants in Europe. a drawing of each plant, quite a bit of interesting information.
[13]Triska. Dr. Hamlyn Encyclopaedia of Plants.
Very interesting reading, giving some details of plant uses and quite a lot of folk-lore.
[14]Holtom. J. and Hylton. W. Complete Guide to Herbs.
A good herbal.
[17]Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles.
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
[18]Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B. Companion Plants.
Details of beneficial and antagonistic relationships between neighbouring plants.
[20]Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Fairly good.
[21]Lust. J. The Herb Book.
Lots of information tightly crammed into a fairly small book.
[24]Baines. C. Making a Wildlife Garden.
Fairly good with lots of ideas about creating wildlife areas in the garden.
[32]Bruce. M. E. Commonsense Compost Making.
Excellent little booklet dealing with how to make compost by using herbs to activate the heap. Gives full details of the herbs that are used.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[52]Larkcom. J. Salads all the Year Round.
A good and comprehensive guide to temperate salad plants, with full organic details of cultivation.
[53]De. Bray. L. The Wild Garden.
Interesting reading.
[54]Hatfield. A. W. How to Enjoy your Weeds.
Interesting reading.
[61]Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[99]Turner. N. J. Plants in British Columbian Indian Technology.
Excellent and readable guide.
[133]Rice. G. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 1.
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation.
[145]Singh. Dr. G. and Kachroo. Prof. Dr. P. Forest Flora of Srinagar.
A good flora of the western Himalayas but poorly illustrated. Some information on plant uses.
[165]Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism.
An excellent small herbal.
[168]Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants.
A very good and readable book on dyeing.
[172]Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest.
A nice guide to some useful plants in that area.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[187]Phillips. R. & Rix. M. Perennials Volumes 1 and 2.
Photographs of over 3,000 species and cultivars of ornamental plants together with brief cultivation notes, details of habitat etc.
[190]Chatto. B. The Dry Garden.
A good list of drought resistant plants with details on how to grow them.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[208]Thomas. G. S. Plants for Ground Cover
An excellent detailled book on the subject, very comprehensive.
[218]Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
[222]Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America.
A concise book dealing with almost 500 species. A line drawing of each plant is included plus colour photographs of about 100 species. Very good as a field guide, it only gives brief details about the plants medicinal properties.
[233]Thomas. G. S. Perennial Garden Plants
A concise guide to a wide range of perennials. Lots of cultivation guides, very little on plant uses.
[238]Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
[240]Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement).
Very terse details of medicinal uses of plants with a wide range of references and details of research into the plants chemistry. Not for the casual reader.
[254]Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
[257]Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
[268]Stuart. M. (Editor) The Encyclopedia of Herbs and Herbalism
Excellent herbal with good concise information on over 400 herbs.
[301]Karalliedde. L. and Gawarammana. I. Traditional Herbal Medicines
A guide to the safer use of herbal medicines.

Readers comment                                         
 
Elizabeth H.
Si Thu Jan 19 2006
A very good plant to eat if you are keen on silica and toxic acids.
Elizabeth H.
Marinella Zepigi Pessina Sun Oct 29 2006

Il Forum dei Funghi e Fiori in Italia - Micologia e Botanica scheda

Sorcha F.
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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