April 30, 2017

Quite the Cosmopolitan

Achillea millefolium - Yarrow | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Achillea millefolium – Yarrow | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Achillea millefolium gets around, hence the term cosmopolitan. Common yarrow is distributed throughout the Northern Hemisphere and in Maine across a variety of habitats, including alpine or subalpine zones, disturbed soils, cliffs and ledges, meadows and fields, and shorelines of rivers and lakes. With fernlike foliage and clusters of tiny flowers, yarrow can reach up to 3 feet in height. It is a rhizomatous perennial that will form a mat in the right conditions. Its strong growth often causes it to be considered an aggressive weed. Yarrow was introduced to North America from European and Asian sources during colonial times and has spread across the continent since then. Its long history includes medicinal uses, as well as a fumigant and insecticide. It has been used in traditional medicine to stop bleeding (and its name Achillea is after Achilles in Greek mythology who used it to stop the bleeding of his warriors in the Trojan War); yarrow does contain a substance – achileine – which enhances blood clotting.

Wild Wednesday is a collaboration of Garden Maine and Glen Mittelhauser of the nonprofit Maine Natural History Observatory, www.mainenaturalhistory.org.

In 2012, Glen began working to catalog the plants of Baxter State Park, which you can read about here and find out how to sponsor a plant of your own. Courtesy of a poll taken in 2012, Garden Maine is sponsoring this lovely plant.