Common Yarrow

Overview
The common yarrow (Achillea Millefolium), is a flowering herbaceous plant native to the Northern Hemisphere and belongs to the second largest family of flowering plants; asteraceae. The common yarrow was native to North America but other varieties were introduced by European immigrants and today yarrow flourishes all over the United States and Canada. The common yarrow is a dicot that grows during spring time and usually grows in areas where water is scarce. (http://www.gardenguides.com/taxonomy/common-yarrow-achillea-millefolium/) The plant prefers dry soil and usually bloom and produce its fruits and seeds in the summer time. (http://ethnobotany09.providence.wikispaces.net/Common+Yarrow) The plant grows to a height of 3 feet, the stems making up 2 feet of the plant and leaves being another 10 inches long. The stems grow hair but some stems can be smooth; the stems are forked and groups of stems often grow from the same root crown. ( http://oardc.osu.edu/weedguide/singlerecord.asp?id=1090) The leaves are alternate and are attached directly to the stem by a stalk and and look like ferns but instead have hair and gradually get smaller as they move up towards the stem. ( http://oardc.osu.edu/weedguide/singlerecord.asp?id=1090) The root system of the common yarrow is extensive. The yarrow has a fibour rhizome system that extends horizontally into the soil and provide a firm foundation for the plant. ( http://oardc.osu.edu/weedguide/singlerecord.asp?id=1090) The flowers of the common yarrow are typically white that make a single flat grouping of flowers and sometimes, the flowers of the common yarrow can be pink, yellow or red. (http://www.ppws.vt.edu/scott/weed_id/achmi.htm) The fruit of the common yarrow is an achene which is egg-shaped and carries the seed within it. The fruit on average measures 1/10 of an inch and is flat and gray in color. ( http://oardc.osu.edu/weedguide/singlerecord.asp?id=1090) The plant blooms throughout the summer months and



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Asteraceae Family
The asteraceae / composite family is commonly referred as the sunflower or daisy family. It is comprise of 24,000 species of plants and 1550 genera and is the largest family of plants in the world. Members of the asteraceae family can be found on six of the seven continents and includes an array of tress, shrubs, herbs and vines. A large majority of this family is herbaceous which means that the stems and leaves die and fall down to the ground at the end of the growing season.

The members of the asteraceae family share a common body structure called infloresence. Inflorescence is a group of flowers centered around a stem. The more specific term, with regard to the asteraceae family, is called a capitulum. A capitulum is a group of flowers instead of a single flower.Most of the the leaf structure of the members include alternate, opposite and simple. The flowers, in the asteraceae family, are surrounded by involucel bracts. Involucel bracts contribute to the reproductive process of the plants and are seen near the flowers of the species in the asteraceae family. Every flower within the family produces seeds for reproduction, the seeds grow in the center of the flower after the plant is polinated and may be dispensed by the wind. (http://www.theseedsite.co.uk/asteraceae.html) An example of this is the dandelion's seeds spreading in the air when the wind blows.

The leaves of these plants are often prickly and spooned shaped; the stem can be both firm and hollow and often times be filled with resin. The root systems within this family can be shallow and near the surface or they can grow a tap root, which allows smaller roots to stem from that.
(http://www.theseedsite.co.uk/asteraceae.html)
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The most known relatives of the common yarrow in the asteraceae family are daisy's, sunflowers, letuce, artichokes, dahlias and dandelions.


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Distribution
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Medicinal Purposes
The common yarrow has long been a plant use for medicinal purposes. In antiquity, the common yarrow has been used to treat the wounds of injured soldiers. The plant was carried by soldiers and surgeons in ancient times as well as the Middle Ages in order to patch deep wounds, because the leaves aid the wound in clotting. The plant would be used to create an ointment that would be applied to the wound to stop bleeding and heal the would as fast as possible. (http://www.ashtreepublishing.com/Book_City_Herbal_Yarrow.htm) As treatment for open wounds and warfare evolved, the use for the common yarrow as an effective means to heal wounds become obsolete. (http://www.natural-holistic-health.com/medicinal-effects-common-yarrow/)

Though its original purpose was to treat battlefield injuries, it was discovered that common yarrow had other important qualities in treating non-combat related illness. The Native Americans of the New World used the common yarrow to treat a variety of illnesses. Their use of the yarrow was continued by European settlers in an effort to combat disease and illness from spreading. The stalk was eaten to treat pain and the leaves were inhaled through the nose in order to treat headaches. Some native cultures like the Navajo boiled the common yarrow into a tea in order to combat fever, and the Cherokee chewed the yarrow to cure toothaches and mouth pain. (http://ag.arizona.edu/yavapai/anr/hort/byg/archive/growingyarrow.html) The Delaware and Algonquin Indians created and drank a tea that could counter kidney disorders and the Piute drank yarrow to treat upset stomachs. ( http://www.ashtreepublishing.com/Book_City_Herbal_Yarrow.htm)

Today, common yarrow is used by herbalists to combat common illness and diseases such as hay fever, influenza and asthma. Common yarrow can also be used to treat joint pain and nosebleeds. (http://www.natural-holistic-health.com/medicinal-effects-common-yarrow/) The flowers of the plant provide the most effective medicinal qualities. Oil from the flowers can be extracted in order to create a rubbing cream to treat the flu and the common cold by relieving congestion. The oil from the flowers can also be used to create a syrup to drink in order to combat congestion caused by the common cold or allergies. The oils from the flowers can also be used in order create a skin cleanser to aid in combating eczema and inhale the fumes from boiling flowers for asthma. (http://www.natural-holistic-health.com/medicinal-effects-common-yarrow/) The Amish concocted a "sweetening tonic" to reduce fever and the also fed yarrow to their horses to kill stomach worms. ( http://www.ashtreepublishing.com/Book_City_Herbal_Yarrow.htm) Yarrow can be used to create anti-inflammatory drugs by mixing 25 ML of St. Johns Wort and 5-10 drops of yarrow oil.



Myths and Folklore
  • The yarrow is known to be a sign of war
  • It is said that it is the devils favorite plant and that he would point it at the house he wanted to curse external image renaissance19m_medium.jpg
  • Placing yarrow under a pillow you rest your head on at night can lead to dreams of love
  • Placing twisted yarrow in the nostril would cause nosebleeds, which was thought to cure headaches
  • Yarrow was tied to a baby's cradle in Colonial America in order to deter witches
  • Yarrow would be mashed into "spew drink" and mixed with holy water which would cause a person to "throw up" the demon inside them
  • Roman myth claims that the yarrow was Venus' favorite plant and those desperate for love would sing to her for love, while holding it.
Yarroway, Yarroway, bear a white blow [flower].
If my love loves me, my nose will bleed now.
If my love do not love me, it won't bleed a drop,
If my love loves me, 'twill bleed every drop.




Source (http://www.ashtreepublishing.com/Book_City_Herbal_Yarrow.htm)


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