Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Backyard Nature Wednesday: Yarrow

Achillea millefolium, commonly called yarrow, is a member of the very large aster family. It is native throughout the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere of the planet.  It is a valuable addition to drought-tolerant habitat gardens that focus on using native plants and attracting native wildlife. It is particularly useful in butterfly gardens. The shape of its flowers make them easy landing zones for butterflies. The inflorescences are favorites of many pollinating insects. It is known that some cavity nesting birds also use yarrow to line their nests, where it serves as a natural pesticide and inhibits the growth of parasites.

Yarrow has an interesting history. Its genus name Achillea comes from the mythical Greek character, Achilles. Supposedly, he carried yarrow with his army to treat battle wounds. It was traditionally used to help stop bleeding; two of its common names were staunchweed and soldier's woundwort. There are numerous other common names that reflect this usage. It encourages clotting and, in addition to treating wounds, the fresh leaves have been used to stop nosebleeds. Also, the essential oils of the plant, when extracted by steam distillation of the flowers, can be used as an anti-inflammatory and it will kill the larvae of some mosquitoes. All in all, a very useful plant.

Yarrow comes in a wide variety of bloom colors, but I grow it in white. My start of the plant was given to me several years ago by a friend and the perennial plant has flourished in its sunny spot in my garden, an ever-present reminder of this lovely person and her friendship.

 

8 comments:

  1. I planted it in several spots around the yard a few years ago. Most didn't make it, but the one I planted along the back wall has grown and spread around the base of the Vitex tree. It covers an area about 10 feet wide now.Our mild winters don't seem to faze it at all. I love it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There have been a few times when mine has died back in the winter, but it always comes back strong in the spring. So strong that I really need to divide and move part of it now.

      Delete
  2. Lovely. Thanks for the history. It sounds like something perhaps the peacocks wouldn't like. I am always on the lookout for that!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sounds like a very useful plant to have around.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It certainly has many uses as an herbal remedy. I don't really use it for any of those. I just enjoy it as a pollinator-attractor.

      Delete