Monday, February 1, 2010

Achillea millefolium

The common name is Yarrow and this one's particular name is 'Paprika'. The color looks sort of subdued in this photo, but it is just so bright in the garden. We actually had one blooming until mid-October this year, the last Yarrow to bloom in the garden this season, even though it started in early summer.
The history. Myth has it that Achilles first revealed the uses of the plant and from the species name, millefolium, or thousand leaved we get a description of the foliage. Some other names by which it has been known are milfoil, old man's pepper, thousand-leaved, nosebleed, thousand-seal, dog daisy, soldier's wound-wort and devil's plaything. Old man's pepper refers to its mildly pungent taste and smell, while nosebleed goes back to its use both to induce nosebleed, and because of its astringent quality, to stop mild bleeding. It was used to bandage battle wounds. The name devil's plaything refers to its use in divination.
It is not native to this country and was probably brought to this country for medicinal use by early settlers. It is now widely distributed in fields and meadows, blooming in early August (the wild form - the garden hybrids bloom all summer) when it can be gathered and dried for later use.
This is a full sun plant, the more the better and will even grow in less than perfect locations, tolerating a bit of drought, but really dry weather will leave it looking limp. It is easy to grow and comes in a large variety of colors from white (the wild form) through yellow, pink, peach and fuchsia. Most of my pastel flowered ones are 12 to 18 inches tall, but the 'Paprika' pictured at the top of the post can easily reach 3 feet.
I guess I need to add that I'm not recommending any of these 'cures', but rather doing this as a historical exploration.


Sylvia (England) said...

I have the wild one in my garden but I don't grow the varieties because they get very floppy and I have an dislike of staking! But never say never!

Best wishes Sylvia (England)

Hoot Owl Hollow Nursery said...

Look for one of the newer pastels. Mine are short and don't need any staking like the older ones did.