United States Edition

Common yarrow    

Achillea millefolium

'Common yarrow' is a plant in the Achillea (Yarrow) genus with a scientific name of Achillea millefolium.

Yarrow is a creeping perennial with white flowerheads and feathery, finely divided leaves3. It is a very attractive plant in the garden, with a long flowering period in spring and summer4.

It is native to Europe and western Asia, and can be found growing wild in temperate regions throughout the world3. The plant is also a useful “plant doctor” — it will revive ailing plants, and keep neighbouring plants free of insects4. Both leaves and flowers dry well and can be used in pot pourris4. The herb spreads via its roots3.

Medicinal properties

In classical times, it was used to staunch bleeding wounds4, and was called herba militaris3. It has also been used as a strengthening bitter tonic3, for the reduction of fevers4, as a substitute for quinine in malaria treatment4, treatment of hypertension and coronary thrombosis4. Its astringent properties make it useful for the treatment of excessive menstrual bleeding, diarrhoea and dysentery4. It is also soothing and effective in treating pneumonia, rheumatism, and sore throats4. It is a diuretic, an effective skin cleanser, and can be made into a lotion for haemorrhoids4. It is said to be beneficial for hay fever, colds, flu and circulatory disorders, but remains poorly researched3. May cause allergic reactions3.

Key medicinal constituents include volatile oils, sesquiterpene lactones, flavonoids, alkaloids (namely achilleine), polyaceteylenes, triterpenes, salicylic acid, coumarin and tannins3.

The key medicinal actions of yarrow are3:

  • antispasmodic
  • astringent
  • bitter tonic
  • increases sweating
  • lowers blood pressure
  • reduces fever
  • mild diuretic and urinary antiseptic
  • stops internal bleeding
  • promotes menstruation
  • anti-inflammatory
Blooms appear in these approximate colours:   Ghost white and   Cadmium yellow and   Carnation pink. It is a flowering edible herb / flower that typically grows as a perennial, which is defined as a plant that matures and completes its lifecycle over the course of three years or more. Common yarrow normally grows to a forb habit with a max height of 3.25 feet (that's 1.00 metres metric). This plant tends to bloom in mid summer, followed by first harvests in late summer. This plant is a great attractor for butterflies and bees, so if you are looking to attract wildlife Common yarrow is a great choice. Popular varieties of Common yarrow with home gardeners are Paprika, Summer Pastels, Cerise queen, Summer Berries and Strawberry Seduction.

Common yarrow is normally quite a low maintenance plant and is normally very easy to grow - great for beginner gardeners!

This plant info is provided by the myfolia gardener's wiki. All details about Common yarrow have been kindly provided by our members.

How to grow Common yarrow

  • Full Sun

    OR +
  • Partial Sun

  • Low

Thrives in well-drained, sunny locations.

Mulch to prevent weeds. Fertilize lightly if at all. This plant needs to be divided every 2 – 3 years. Can sometimes be invasive.1

Try to plant in a location that enjoys full sun / partial sun and remember to apply water fairly sparingly. Use Zone 3 - Zone 10 as your guideline for the appropriate climate for this plant. Keep in mind when planting that Common yarrow is thought of as hardy, so this plant will survive close to or on freezing temperatures.

See our list of companion Plants for Common yarrow to see which plants you should plant in close proximity to encourage growth.

Growing Common yarrow from seed

Seeds require light for germination, so optimal germination occurs when planted no deeper than ¼ inch.

Sow 0.25 inches (0.635 cm) deep with a guideline distance of 11.89 inches (30.5 cm). Soil temperature should be kept higher than 18°C / 64°F to ensure good germination.

By our calculations*, you should look at sowing Common yarrow about 49 days before your last frost date .

Transplanting Common yarrow

Common yarrow responds best to soil that is poorly developed and well drained. It is a weedy species and can become invasive. It may suffer from mildew or root rot if not planted in well-drained soil.

Ensure that temperatures are mild and all chance of frost has passed before planting out, as Common yarrow is a hardy plant.

Harvesting Common yarrow

Harvest aerial parts (flowers and stalks) in summer, when the plant is in flower 3. The aerial parts can be used fresh or dried, and contain flavenoids 3. The leaves are used fresh 3.

Common Common yarrow problems

These problems, diseases and pests are known to affect Common yarrow plants:

Yarrow attracts beneficial insects such as hover flies and ladybugs which are predators to aphids.

Common yarrow Etymology

Named for Achilles, who is said to have used a yarrow dressing to heal wounds and the wounds of his soldiers; thus the common name Soldier’s Woundwort, and the
genus name Achillea 4.

Common yarrow Folklore & Trivia

- Chinese proverbs claim that yarrow brightens the eyes and promotes intelligence.
- It is said that it grows around the grave of Confucius.
- Yarrow was one of the herbs put in Saxon amulets. These amulets were for protection from everything from blindness to barking dogs.
- In the Middle Ages, witches were said to use yarrow to make incantations. This may be the source for the common names devil’s nettle, devil’s plaything, and bad man’s plaything.
- A folk belief states that if you hang a bunch of dried yarrow or yarrow that had been used in wedding decorations over the bed, you can thus ensure a lasting love for at least seven years.
- Navajo Indians considered it to be a “life medicine”, chewed it for toothaches, and poured an infusion into ears for earaches.
- The Cherokee drank a tea of common yarrow to reduce fever and aid in restful sleep.
- Shakers used yarrow for complaints from hemorrhages to flatulence.
- Yarrow was once known as" nosebleed" because its leaves were used to staunch blood. 3
- In Scotland, yarrow was used to make a traditional wound ointment 3

Other names for Common yarrow

Yarrow, Nosebleed, Milfoil, Woundwort, Achillea

Herba militaris

Misspellings: Achillea millifolium, Achillea millennium

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Common yarrow care instructions

How long does Common yarrow take to grow?

These estimates for how long Common yarrow takes to sprout, grow and harvest are from real observations from real gardeners, right around the world. Start logging and journaling your observations to participate!

When should I plant Common yarrow?

Our when to plant Common yarrow estimates are relative to your last frost date. Enter your frost dates and we'll calculate your sowing and planting dates for you!


1 Gardening 1-2-3, The Home Depot

2 Smiling Gardener’s hub chart

3 :The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants, by Andrew Chevallier; First published 1996

4 :Growing Herbs with Margaret Roberts; First published 1985

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