Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Yarrow - Achillea millefolium

Family: Aster - Asteraceae Family

Allergen Potential Flavouring;Hop substititute;Beverage Repellant Panacea;Tea;Wounds;Essential Oil


  • Achillea albida Willd.[PFAF]
  • Achillea magna auct.[E-flora]
  • Achillea gracilis Raf [PFAF]
  • Achillea lanulosa Nutt. [PFAF][WeedsW]

Subtaxa in B.C.

  • Achillea millefolium var. alpicola [E-flora]
  • Achillea millefolium var. borealis [E-flora]
  • Achillea millefolium var. lanulosa [E-flora]
  • Achillea millefolium var. pacifica [E-flora]

General Stems erect [HNW] and "...growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.6 m (2ft in) at a fast rate."[PFAF] "...somewhat pubescent, the hairs white." [HNW] 10-100cm tall.
Lifecycle Perennial.[PFAF][PCBC2004]
Flowers "Heads numerous, in a short, flat or round-topped cluster." [IFBC][E-flora] "The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects."[PFAF] "Ray flowers usually about 5,[PCBC2004] small, white, rarely pink, [HNW] or sometimes reddish.[PCBC2004] The 10-30 disk flowers are the same color, or contrasting; white, pink, purple, [WildPNW]or cream coloured. [PCBC2004]
Fruits Achenes glabrous, flattened [IFBC][E-flora][PCBC2004] pappus lacking.[PCBC204]
Leaves Fernlike, alternate [IFBC][E-flora] "...with numerous, highly dissected leafles."[PSW] "the basal leaves larger and at first tufted." [HNW] 2-6 inches long and 1/4 to 1 inch wide.[WeedsW]
Stem "...covered with white cottony hairs."[PSW]
Root usually rhizomatous.[IFBC][E-flora] "...a weakly spreading root system."[WeedsW]
Properties Aromatic.[IFBC][E-flora] A "strong unpleasant odor."[PSW]
Habitat "...dry coastal bluffs, meadows, grasslands, rocky slopes and open forests...".[IFBC][E-flora] Sometimes weedy.[HNW]"...occupying many plant communities..."[Weedsw] All elevations.[WildPNW]
Range common throughout B.C. [IFBC][E-flora] Pacific States.[PSW] "It is widely distributed throughout the temperate northern hemisphere."[WeedsW]
Status Native.[E-flora]
Notes "Taxonomically, one of our most complex species. Tyrl (1980)" [E-flora] Highly variable. [HNW]



Other Uses

Medicinal Uses


Medicinal Use
Named after Achilles of Greek mythology, "Yarrow is one of the oldest known botanicals used by humans..." and "...among the six medicinal plants whose pollen was found in a Homo neanderthalensis grave at Shanidar, dated to 65,000 B.C." "Moerman’s authoritative (1998) compilation identified 377 distinct medicinal use reports for yarrow by Native American groups, the most for any plant." It has been "used medicinally by no fewer than 76 tribes." Its use has been recorded in North America, China, Europe, Indonesia, South Africa, Botswana, Brazil, and various other parts of Central and South America.[Panacea]

"Yarrow has a high reputation and is widely employed in herbal medicine, administered both internally and externally. It is used in the treatment of a very wide range of disorders but is particularly valuable for treating wounds, stopping the flow of blood, treating colds, fevers, kidney diseases, menstrual pain etc[218, 238, 254, 257]." [PFAF]

"Yarrow is one of the most widely used medicinal plants in the world, primarily for wounds, digestive problems, respiratory infections, and skin conditions, and secondarily, among other uses, for liver disease and as a mild sedative. Preclinical studies indicate that it may have anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, hepatoprotective, anxiolytic, and perhaps antipathogenic activities." [Panacea]

"The whole plant is used, both fresh and dried, and is best harvested when in flower[222]." [PFAF] For medicinal purposes, it can be gathered any time during the growing season. However, it is best gathered just before it flowers. [Nyerges]

Daily Dosage:
Infusion — 4.5 gm herb or 3 gm flowers.
Tea — 1 cup, freshly made, 3 to 4 times daily between meals.
External application — "100 gm Yarrow to be drawn in 1 to 2 liter of water for 20 minutes and added to the bath water."[PDR]
Homeopathic Uses: "...used in varicose veins, arterial bleeding, convulsions. Homeopathic Dosage: 5 to 10 drops 1 to 3 times daily...(HAB1)."[PDR]


The herb is antiseptic, mildly aromatic, astringent, digestive, odontalgic, bitter tonic, vasodilator and vulnerary.[PFAF]

Abortifacient (f; CRC); [HMH Duke]
Analgesic (1; APA; CRC); [HMH Duke]
Antibacterial (2; APA; KOM; PIP); [HMH Duke]
Antiedemic (1; APA; CAN; PH2); [HMH Duke]
Antiinflammatory (1; APA; PH2; PNC; WAM);[HMH Duke] "possess definite anti-inflammatory properties. . . . These properties consist mainly of plant proteins and carbohydrates, and are most active in water extracts or teas and tinctures." (See Caution)[Schofield]
Antiperspirant (f; PHR); [HMH Duke]
Antipyretic (1; BGB; CRC; PNC); [HMH Duke]
Antiseptic (2; APA; BGB; KOM);[HMH Duke]
Antispasmodic (2; BGB; KOM; SHT); [HMH Duke][PFAF]
Antiviral (f; CRC); [HMH Duke]
Aperitif (2; APA; KOM); [HMH Duke]
Astringent (2; KOM; SHT); [HMH Duke] with tannins [Hudson WENM]
Carminative (f; PED); [HMH Duke][PFAF]
Cholagogue (1; BGB; PH2);[HMH Duke][PFAF]
Choleretic (2; APA; KOM; PIP);[HMH Duke]

CNS Depressant (1; APA; CAN); [HMH Duke]
Culicide (1; CRC); [HMH Duke]
Diaphoretic (1; APA; BGB; WAM); [HMH Duke][PFAF]
Diuretic (1; APA; CAN; PNC); [HMH Duke]
Emmenagogue (f; CRC); [HMH Duke][PFAF]
Expectorant (1; FAD; PED); [HMH Duke]
Hemostat (2; APA; CAN; WAM); [HMH Duke]
Hypoglycemic (f; PED); [HMH Duke]
Hypotensive (1; BGB; CRC; PNC); [HMH Duke]
Insecticide (1; CRC);[HMH Duke]
Laxative (f; CRC); [HMH Duke]
Sedative (1; APA; CRC); [HMH Duke]
Stimulant (f; CRC; PED); [HMH Duke][PFAF]
Swelling (1; APA; CAN; PH2); [HMH Duke]
Urinary Antiseptic (1; CAN); [HMH Duke]
Uterine Stimulants. [Hudson WENM]
Vermifuge (f; CRC).[HMH Duke]


This is a crude organization of known constituents found in Achillea millefolium. Expect a few substances to be mistakenly arranged. I have tried my best to sort them from the information I have found. This list will be updated at a later date, with more complete references.


  • DULCITOL Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • FURFURYL-ALCOHOL Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • INOSITOL Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • MENTHOL Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • MANNITOL Plant: [DukePhyto]


  • FURFURAL Plant: [DukePhyto]


  • BETONICINE Plant: [DukePhyto] (Pyrrolidine Carboxylic Acids and Derivatives)
  • STACHYDRINE Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • TRIGONELLINE Plant: [DukePhyto]


  • HEPTADECANE Plant: [DukePhyto]

Amino Acids

  • ASPARAGINE Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • HOMOSTACHYDRINE Plant: [DukePhyto] (l-alpha-amino acids)


  • ALPHA-TERPINENE Leaf 3 - 130 ppm [DukePhyto]


  • CUMINALDEHYDE Leaf 0.3 - 11 ppm [DukePhyto]


  • COUMARINS Plant: [DukePhyto]

Cyanogenic Glycosides



  • ALUMINUM Plant 34 ppm; [DukePhyto]
  • CALCIUM Plant 8,670 ppm; [DukePhyto]
  • COBALT Plant 31 ppm; [DukePhyto]
  • CHROMIUM Plant 25 ppm; [DukePhyto]
  • IRON Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • MAGNESIUM Plant 1,920 ppm; [DukePhyto]
  • MANGANESE Plant 50 ppm; [DukePhyto]
  • PHOSPHORUS Plant 2,950 ppm; [DukePhyto]
  • POTASSIUM Plant 17,800 ppm; [DukePhyto]
  • SELENIUM Plant: DUKE1992A [DukePhyto]
  • SILICON Plant 45 ppm; [DukePhyto]
  • SODIUM Plant 82 ppm; [DukePhyto]
  • TIN Plant 26 ppm; [DukePhyto]
  • WATER Plant 823,000 ppm; [DukePhyto]
  • ZINC Plant: [DukePhyto]


  • EO [DukePhyto]
    • Flower 700 - 5,000 ppm [DukePhyto]
    • Leaf 250 - 14,000 ppm [DukePhyto]

Fatty Acids

  • BUTYRIC-ACID Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • CEROTINIC-ACID Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • ISOVALERIC-ACID Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • MYRISTIC-ACID Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • OLEIC-ACID Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • PALMITIC-ACID Plant: [DukePhyto]

Higher Alkanes

  • PENTACOSANE Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • TRICOSANE Plant: [DukePhyto]


  • AZULENE Leaf 7,140 ppm; [DukePhyto]
  • COPAENE Leaf 1.5 - 60 ppm [DukePhyto]
  • DELTA-CADINENE Leaf 0.2 - 8 ppm [DukePhyto]
  • GUAIAZULENE Plant: [DukePhyto]


  • 8-ACETOCYARTABSIN Plant [DukePhyto]
  • 8-ANELOOXYARTABSIN Plant [DukePhyto]
  • ASH Plant 100,000 - 125,000 ppm [DukePhyto]
  • BETAINE Plant: [DukePhyto]including L-stachydrine, L-hydrostachydrine(betonicine)[PDR]
  • BORNYL-ACETATE Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • CAFFEIC-ACID Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • FORMIC-ACID Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • ISOBUTYL-ACETATE Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • RESIN Plant 6,000 ppm; [DukePhyto]
  • SUCCINIC-ACID Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • THIOPHENES [DukePhyto]
    • Flower 167 ppm; [DukePhyto]
    • Leaf 167 ppm; [DukePhyto]
  • VIBURNITOL Plant: [DukePhyto]

Organic Acid

  • ACONITIC-ACID Plant: [DukePhyto]

Phenolic Acid

  • SALICYLIC-ACID Plant: [DukePhyto]


  • EUGENOL Plant: [DukePhyto]


  • BETA-SITOSTEROL Plant: [DukePhyto]
    • BETA-SITOSTEROL-ACETATE Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • MOSCHATINE Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • STIGMASTEROL Plant: [DukePhyto]



Polyphenolic Compounds

  • Flavonoids
  • 5-HYDROXY-3,6,7,4'-TETRAMETHOXYFLAVONE Plant [DukePhyto]
  • ARTEMITIN Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • ISORHAMNETIN Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • Flavones
    • APIGENIN Plant: DUKE1992A [DukePhyto]
      • APIGENIN-GLUCOSIDE Plant: [DukePhyto]
    • LUTEOLIN Plant: [DukePhyto]
      • LUTEOLIN-7-GLUCOSIDE Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • Flavonols
    • CASTICIN Plant: [DukePhyto]
    • TANNIN Plant 28,000 ppm; [DukePhyto]
  • Glycosides
    • RUTIN Plant: [DukePhyto]
    • QUERCITRIN Plant: [DukePhyto]
      • Aglycone: QUERCETIN Plant: [DukePhyto]
      • Glycoside: QUERCETIN-GLYCOSIDE Plant: [DukePhyto]


  • PONTICAEPOXIDE Plant: [DukePhyto][PDR]


  • CARYOPHYLLENE Leaf 4 - 160 ppm [DukePhyto]
  • FARNESENE Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • HUMULENE Leaf 0.5 - 22 ppm [DukePhyto]

Sesquiterpene lactones
Mainly guaianolides [PDR]

  • ACHICEINE Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • ACHILLEINE Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • ACHILLETINE Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • ACHILLICIN Plant: [DukePhyto][PDR] (guaianolides)
  • ACHILLIN Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • AUSTRICIN Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • HYDROXYACHILLIN Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • LEUCODIN Plant: [DukePhyto] (guaianolides)
  • MILLEFIN Plant: [DukePhyto] (germacranolides and derivatives)
  • MILLEFOLIDE Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • PROAZULENE Plant: [DukePhyto] (guaianolides)


  • BALCHANOLIDE Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • BORNEOL Leaf 6 - 275 ppm [DukePhyto]
  • GAMMA-TERPINENE Leaf 9 - 370 ppm [DukePhyto]
  • LIMONENE Leaf 4 - 170 ppm [DukePhyto]
  • TERPINEN-4-OL Leaf 10 - 430 ppm [DukePhyto]
  • TRICYCLENE Leaf 0.6 - 27 ppm [DukePhyto]
  • Monoterpenes
    • ALLO-OCIMENE Leaf 4 - 140 ppm [DukePhyto]
    • CAMPHENE Leaf 15 - 600 ppm [DukePhyto]
    • CINEOLE Plant: [DukePhyto]
    • MYRCENE Leaf 0.5 - 20 ppm [DukePhyto]
    • SABINENE Leaf 30 - 1,225 ppm [DukePhyto]
  • alkylbenzenes
    • P-CYMENE Leaf 9 - 370 ppm '^[DukePhyto]^


  • BETA-CAROTENE Plant: [DukePhyto]

Vitamins & Nutrients

  • ASCORBIC-ACID Leaf 580 - 3,100 ppm [DukePhyto]
  • CARBOHYDRATES Plant 713,000 - 752,000 ppm [DukePhyto]
  • CHOLINE Plant: [DukePhyto] (water-soluble nutrient)
  • Monosaccharides
    • ARABINOSE Plant: [DukePhyto]
    • GALACTOSE Plant: [DukePhyto]
    • GLUCOSE Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • FAT [DukePhyto]
    • Plant 18,000 - 40,000 ppm [DukePhyto]
    • Seed 223,000 - 334,000 ppm [DukePhyto]
  • FIBER Plant 69,000 - 201,000 ppm [DukePhyto]
  • FOLACIN Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • KILOCALORIES Plant 2,900 /kg; [DukePhyto]
  • NIACIN Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • Polysaccharides
    • INULIN Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • PROTEIN [DukePhyto]
    • Plant 108,000 - 144,000 ppm [DukePhyto]
    • Seed 286,000 - 369,000 ppm [DukePhyto]
  • RIBOFLAVIN Plant 5 - 6 ppm [DukePhyto]
  • THIAMIN Plant: [DukePhyto]

Volatile Oils

  • 1,8-CINEOLE Leaf 24 - 960 ppm [DukePhyto] Up to 10% [PDR]
  • ALPHA-PINENE Leaf 25 - 1,000 ppm [DukePhyto] Up to 5% [PDR]
  • ALPHA-THUJONE Plant: [DukePhyto]
  • BETA-PINENE Leaf 18 - 720 ppm [DukePhyto] Up to 23% [PDR]
  • CAMPHOR Leaf 45 - 1,780 ppm [DukePhyto] up to 20% [PDR]
  • Caryophyllene (up to 10%) [PDR]
  • CHAMAZULENE Plant 50 - 2,800 ppm [DukePhyto] (blue, 6-19%, maximum 40%). Some strains are free of chamazulene.[PDR] Yarrow contains chamazulene, among other components of its essential volatile oils. That compound acts as an anti-inflammatory, antiallergenic, and helps stop spasms (Swerdlow 2000). [Daniel F Austin]
  • ISOARTEMISIA-KETONE Plant: [DukePhyto] "isoartemisiaketon (up to 8%)" [PDR]
  • THUJONE Plant: [DukePhyto]

Achillea millefolium subsp. elborsensis Yarrow Plumajillo (Alborz) - Flowers - Essential oil (chamazulene as the main constituent; 48.9 %) [Antifungal]

Aerial Part
Essential oil: Content, % on fresh wt: 0.007–0.13 [1]
Content, % on absolutely dry wt: 0.1–0.37 [2] Saponification value, mg KOH: 26.1 [1]

Essential oil, % on air dry wt: 0.09–0.91 [8, 9] Lipids, % on air dry wt: 4.34 [8]

Essential oil, % on air dry wt: 0.3 [8]
Lipids, % on air dry wt: 5.73 [8]

Stem - Lipids, % on air dry wt: 0.62 [8]

Use: Essential oil is used in cosmetic products and for treatment of injuries to the epithelium by burns and erythema [10]. Lipophilic extract has antioxidant activity [11].[LLCEOPS]


Yarrow – Achillea millefolium[Turner, Kuhnlein]

Part: Leaves Per 100 g fresh weight
Calcium (mg) 225 Manganese (mg) 4 Potassium (mg) 645 Water (g) 79 Zinc (mg) 0.7 Magnesium (mg) 53
Protein (g) 3.8 Iron (mg) 13.1 Copper (mg) 0.2 Fat (g) - Sodium (mg) 59 Phosphorus (mg) 76


"Succeeds in most soils and situations but prefers a well-drained soil in a sunny position[1, 14]. Shade tolerant[13]. Plants live longer when grown in a poor soil[200] and also do well on lime[208]. Established plants are very drought tolerant[200].... Plants succeed in maritime gardens[233]. The plant has a very spreading root system and is usually quite invasive[233, K]. A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to about -25oc[187]. Yarrow is an excellent plant for growing in lawns, meadows, orchards etc., it is tolerant of repeated close cutting and of being walked on[20, 54]. It works to improve the soil fertility[20, 54].... Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[200]. A good bee plant, it is an important nectar source for many insects[24]."[PFAF]


"Seed - sow spring or early autumn in a cold frame[133]. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 3 months[133]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in the summer. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, the divisions can be planted direct into their permanent positions. Divisions succeed at any time of the year. Basal cuttings of new shoots in spring. Very easy, collect the shoots when they are about 10cm tall, potting them up individually in pots and keeping them in a warm but lightly shaded position. They should root within 3 weeks and will be ready to plant out in the summer."[PFAF]


Perennial herb, strongly scented.
Leaf: [simple to] 3-pinnately dissected, basal and cauline, alternate, ± reduced distally on stem, ± hairy.
Inflorescence: heads radiate, many, small, in generally flat-topped clusters; involucre bell-shaped or ovoid; phyllaries graduated in 3–4 series, ovate, obtuse; margins membranous; receptacle flat to rounded, paleate; paleae narrow, transparent, ± folded.
Ray flower: (3)5–8; ray short, generally round, white or pink [yellow].
Disk flower: ± many; corolla short, white to purple [yellow].
Fruit: oblong to obovate, compressed, thick-margined, glabrous; pappus 0.
± 115 species: North America, Eurasia, northern Africa. (Greek: Achilles of ancient mythology) [Trock 2006 FNANM 19:492–494][Jepson]

Key to the Species and Taxonomic Notes
Two species of Achillea in BC may be confused: Achillea millefolium and A. sibirica. The third species, A. ptarmica, is distinctive, with few, larger flowerheads.

1. Leaves pinnately dissected, the divisions again dissected; plants widespread in BC......................A. millefolium
1. Leaves incised, the divisions of the latter merely toothed; plants of northeastern BC.......................A. sibirica [IFBC-E-flora]


Page last modified on Tuesday, August 8, 2023 10:48 AM