Common Yarrow

Scientific Name: Achillea millefolium
Family Name: Asteraceae

Flower: ¼ in. (6 mm.) wide, white flowers with four to six petals. These flowers cluster together on the heads of the stems to make a large white flower head.

Leaf: 6 in. (15 cm.) long, fernlike, delicate, green leaves, lanceolate. Basal leaves are longer than those closer to the top of the plant.
Plant: 1 – 3 ft. (30 – 90 cm.) tall, gray green, hairy stem.

Identifying Characteristics: Although some other plants have fernlike leaves, Common Yarrow has the most delicate, dissected leaves, which identify it.

Location: We found Common Yarrow on Brandeis University campus by the loading dock under the Kosow science building.

History and Comments: Common Yarrow was introduced from Europe to serve as a medicinal plant. It is considered a weed, and it is very hardy, preferring disturbed and roadside area to well cultivated areas. It has been used medicinally for centuries as a blood coagulant. Yarrow's scientific name "Achillea" comes from Achilles, the Greek war hero, who supposedly discovered it, and used it to staunch the blood from his troops' wounds at the siege of Troy. There is also a yarrow native to the United States, which the Native Americans used for the same purposes.

    Unless otherwise specified, all text, photographs, and drawings are Copyright (c) by Shu-Yee Chen and Deborah Hamer 2003. No part of this page may be reproduced without prior written consent of the authors.