Family: Compositae, Achillea millefolium L.
Source: Simon, J.E., A.F. Chadwick and L.E. Craker. 1984.
Herbs: An Indexed Bibliography. 1971-1980. The Scientific Literature
on Selected Herbs, and Aromatic and Medicinal Plants of the Temperate
Zone. Archon Books, 770 pp., Hamden, CT.
Yarrow, Achillea millefolium L., is native to Europe and
Asia and naturalized in North America. Also known as milfoil,
thousand-leaf, green arrow, wound wort, nosebleed, and yarroway,
this perennial herb can reach heights of 0.6 meters. The flowers
are white, pink, or reddish, and the leaves are divided into many
The reported life zone of yarrow includes most of the temperate
zone, and the plant grows wild along roadways and in fields and
pastures. Often considered a weed, yarrow is a hardy perennial
and grows on many soil types if there is adequate drainage. Tops
of the plant are collected when the plant is in flower, from early
to late summer. Maximum oil content is found in dried buds and
The chemical constituents of yarrow include a volatile oil comprised
of azulene and, in smaller amounts, caryophyllene, eucalyptol,
- and -pinene, and borneol (2.3-196). Lactones, such
as achilleic or aconitic acid, and achillene are also present,
as are tannins, caledivain, and alkaloids (11.1-136). The
proazulene content can be used to separate chemotypes.
Many Achillea species, differing in growth, flower color,
and leaf shape, are available for ornamental purposes as border
plants and in rock gardens. Dried flowers can be utilized in flower
arrangements. Leaves and flowers have a bitter, astringent taste
when used in culinary applications. Yarrow has been used in the
manufacture of beer and can be found as an ingredient in herbal
teas (11.1-50). Yarrow oil has been traditionally used in
hair shampoos (11.1-96).
As a medicinal plant, yarrow and other Achillea species
have been used as antispasmodics, astringents, carminatives, diaphoretics,
stimulants, and tonics. In addition, yarrow has been used against
colds, cramps, fevers, kidney disorders, toothaches, skin irritations,
and hemorrhages, and to regulate menses, stimulate the flow of
bile, and purify the blood. Chinese herbal medicine specifies
the use of Achillea sibirica Ledeb. for stomach ulcers,
amenorrhea, abdominal cramps, abscesses, snakebites, traumatic
falls and bleeding, and to reduce inflammation (11.1-10).
The alkaloids present in yarrow have decreased the required blood
clotting time in rabbits (11.1-136). Extracts of yarrow exhibit
antibiotic activity and may also act as antineoplastic drugs (7.2-51,
7.8-37). Contact with yarrow has been reported to cause dermatitis
Yarrow is generally recognized as safe in beverages only if the
finished beverage is thujone-free (21 CFR section 172.510
[Note: References listed above in parentheses can be found in
full in the original reference].
Last modified 6-Dec-1997