Y is for Yarrow

Five years ago on The Squirrel Nutwork, we featured Common Yarrow for Y day. Back then we were just building our photo files and it was spring and the local yarrow hadn’t bloomed. So our post–in which all four of us squirrels weighed in, see it here!–was of the feathery leaves, which are certainly beautiful, but we thought you’d like to see the flowers!

The native yarrow is white.

Usually, Miz Flora tells me. Apparently, she says, this plant was known across Europe and given its Latin name Achillea millefolium, by Linneaus. ‘Millefolium’ means ‘thousand leaves’ which it certainly does have. When explorers crossed North America, they found a yarrow they assumed was related. Because the leaves were fuzzier, another botanist, Thomas Nuttall, named it Achillea lanulosa, which is Latin for ‘wooly.’ Today, botanists group the yarrows together as one genus…although humans sometimes find pale pink flowers among the western, fuzzy-leaved yarrows.

Of course you humans have taken the plant and done all kinds of things to it to make it ‘prettier,’ so don’t be surprised if you go to a garden center and find yarrows blooming in colors from pink to red to purple and yellow to deep gold.

Flowers can be many things to many people!


One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Hey there,

Plain white flowers are hard to identify!

Mystery #158

Give us your guesses for what this one is!


So this little toughie is Yarrow, Achillea millefolium. It’s native in North America and across most of the Northern Hemisphere.

Common Yarrow

The delicate, feathery leaves are the best way to identify it. The last part of the scientific name–millefolium–literally means ‘thousand leaves’. Mz. Flora believes the white flowers are the original wild species, and the colorful yellow and red blossoms you humans plant in your yards are ones you have cultivated.

An interesting fact I learned researching Yarrow is it was used historically to staunch bleeding, so a common name was Soldier’s Woundwort. I have not discovered if the part of the plant used was the leaves, so if anyone knows, send us a note!