Achillea. A-Z of Plant genera. Part -3

Achillea millefolium The common Yarrow.

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Introduction.

Achillea is a genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae {formerly Compositae} ,the daisy family.probably the most familiar member of this genus is the common Yarrow [Pictured above},which has been reviewed in detail in my series 'Past and Present Medicinal Uses' {hub.me/aguPW }, and so is omitted here. However, the many cultivars are reviewed.The genus is named after the Greek Achilles {of the heel fame} who was said to have used members of this genus to treat the wounds inflicted on his soldiers.

The plants in this genus are native to Europe,temperate regions of Asia and North America,of which there are over 150 species recognised by Kew Botanical gardens. There have been over 1,000 species allocated to this genus at one time or another,but most have now been removed altogether. here in this article I will review garden varieties and some wild relatives.

The genus is chiefly made up of species that are upright perennials,of which some are semi-evergreen and suitable for borders and rock gardens many have fern-like foliage and large,usually plate-like flower-heads mainly appearing in summer. The flower-heads may be dried and then used for winter decoration.

They are fully hardy and tolerate most soils,but do best in a sunny position in a well drained soil. Tall species may need staking. They may be propagated by division in early spring and autumn or by soft wood cuttings in early summer.

Achillea clavennae

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Achillea clypeolata

Taken at the Botanical Garden KIT Kanlsruhe Germany.
Taken at the Botanical Garden KIT Kanlsruhe Germany. | Source

Some Achillea cultivars.

Achillea clavennae,{pictured above} is a semi-evergreen,carpeting,perennial that bears clusters of white flowers with gold centres,from summer to mid autumn. The foliage is narrowly oval,many lobed,covered with white hairs. It needs to be in a sunny,well-drained soil. Although it is frost hardy it dislikes winter wet.

It grows to the height of just six inches or so and has a spread of about nine inches.

Achillea clypeolata, is often referred to as the Moonshine yarrow { pictured right } is a semi-evergreen,upright plant. The rootstock is perennial and it attains the height of 18 inches, with a spread of 12 inches. The foliage is divided,covered by hairs that give them a silvery appearance. The plant produces,flat flower-heads,of small yellow flowers during the summer months. These plants will benefit if they are divided regularly in spring.

Achillea filipendula 'Coronation Gold'

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Achillea millefolium 'red variety'

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Achillea filipendula

Achillea filipendula is an Asian species of flowering perennial,native to such countries as Afghanistan,Pakistan,Iran,Turkey,and Iraq,but it has also become naturalized in parts of Europe and North America. It grows to the height of four feet. The yellow flower-heads are quite large often five inches across,with smaller ones giving the head an uneven appearance.

The flowers are rigid and almost hard. They flower from mid to late summer. This species has been used in cultivation and many varieties occur,and are available to the gardener.

One such plant is the variety Achillea' Coronation Gold' {pictured above} which is an upright perennial with feathery,silvery-coloured foliage. It produces large flat heads of small golden yellow flowers in summer,that dry for winter decoration. It is recommended that they are divided and replanted every third year.they do best in full sun and a well drained soil. They are frost hardy.

Other varieties include Achillea 'Cloth of Gold' which has golden yellow flowers. A.'Credo' with pale yellow flowers. A.'heidi' which has rose pink flowers. A.'lewisii {King Edward} which has pale yellow flowers. A.'Laachsschonheit' with pink and white flowers. A.'Lucky Break' with pale yellow flowers. A.'Martina' with yellow flowers. A.Mondpagode' White flowers. and A.'Summerwine' with crimson flowers.

Achillea 'Paprika' is a common red flowered variety


Achillea 'Paprika'

Spring Reserve Las Vegas Nevada
Spring Reserve Las Vegas Nevada | Source

Achillea abrotanoides

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Achillea abrotanoides

Achillea abrotanoides,is a native to south eastern Europe including Croatia and Macedonia. It reaches the height of between 20-40 cm {8-16 Inches}. The leaves are grey-green in colour,much divided and covered by hairs. They are arranged alternately along the stem. They are 1-3 cm long.

The plant produces flat heads of many white flowers 1.2-1.5 Cm across,which appear from June until August. it thrives best in the mountainous regions with stony areas. It is sometimes referred to as Ptramica abrotanoides. It may be purchased as a cultivar and in common with others prefers full sun and a well drained soil. They are completely frost hardy down to -23 C.

Achillea aegyptiaca-The Egyptian Yarrow

This is an ornamental Yarrow that has become naturalized in Europe,from its original country of Egypt. It has been grown in English gardens for at least two centuries. Although it originates in hot climes it is a really hardy plant .

The species produces rich yellow flowers and an abundance of finely cut leaves which have a downy covering giving them a grey-silver appearance. The flowers are produced on long stalks about two feet in height. At the nodes there are much smaller leaves near the top of the stems,these are often without the downy covering.

In the garden this species is suitable for borders,where it will flower from June until September. A sunny position in a well drained soil will suit their requirements best. They are easily propagated by root division at all times of the year except during frosty periods.

Achillea ageratum, flower head.

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Achillea ageratum and Achillea alpina.

Achillea ageratum is another yellow flowering species known by the common names of Sweet Yarrow and Sweet nanny. It is native to southern Europe including the Balkans. It has long been cultivated for its pleasant fragrance.Some have escaped over the garden wall to become naturalized outside its native range in places.Again a location in full sun and well drained soil is favoured in a garden setting.

Achillea alpina,sometimes known as Achillea sibrica is the Chinese or Siberian yarrow. It has a wide spread distribution including China,Mongolia,Korea,Japan,Siberia,Canada and the northern United States,Alaska,northern North Dakota and northern Minnesota.

It is a perennial herb up to two feet or ore.The flowers of this species are white to pale violet,and are pollinated by insects including butterflies. The foliage is typical of the Yarrows' much divided,however, the foliage is generally much narrower than the typical species.

In its natural state it is encountered in meadows,on roadsides,margins of forest and along streams at elevations of 100-1200 metres.and at even higher altitudes in China.The flowers appear from July to September. There are at least five sub-species.

Achillea sibrica {alpina} flowers.

Foliage in the background belongs to a hybrid Day Lily.
Foliage in the background belongs to a hybrid Day Lily. | Source

Achillea atrata.

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Achillea atrata, the Black Yarrow. and Achillea erba-rotta.

Achillea atrata, the Black yarrow,is sometimes referred to as the dark stemmed Sneezewort. it is a perennial plant native to the Alpine regions of Switzerland,France,Italy,Germany,Austria and Slovenia. They tend to thrive on scree and Limestone.

Achillea erba-roota or the simple leaved Milfoil is a perennial species,which have characters that vary.It is a typical species of the Alps. In common with all yarrows the root is a rhizome which is woody and creeping and sends up erect flowering branches to the height of eight inches. the leaves of sterile branches tend to lanceolate,spatulate and toothed. The cauline leaves are arranged alternately along the stems and have no stalks. They are linear.

The flowers are white with brown centres,the white being ray florets and the centres disc florets.They flower from July through August. they are encountered in sunny alpine pastures and rocky regions at altitudes of 2,000-8,000 metres {up to nine thousand feet},above sea level. There are three subspecies.

Achillea erba-rotta

Taken in France
Taken in France | Source

Illustration of Achillea nobilis.

Creative Commons
Creative Commons | Source

Achllea ligustica and Achillea nobilis.

Achillea ligustica is native to southern Europe,Spain ,Italy,France,the western Balkans and Greece. They have become naturalized in North America in small isolated populations.It is know as the Ligurian Yarrow. The flowers appear in June and July,the flowers are white.

Achillea nobilis, is often referred to as the 'Noble Yarrow', and is native to Eurasia,and is widespread across Europe with the exception of Scandinavia and the UK. It also occurs in Turkey and central Asia. However, the species has long been in cultivation and occurs as a garden escape in some parts of North America and other regions of the world.

This species has creamy white flowers or even yellowish ones. It resembles the common Yarrow. However it can be distinguished from A.millefolium by its smaller and more numerous flower heads and by the foliage which is much finer with thin,lacy compound leaves.

The foliage forms a low growing clump in early spring and towards early summer produces stems up to one to feet tall. the stems are terminated by the flat -headed flower clusters. The plant is adorned by a covering of soft hairs. In common with all yarrows it prefers full sun and well drained soils to perform at their best.

Summary

As we have seen the Achillea genus provides the gardener with a great choice of varieties and colours,ranging from White,Pink,Crimson and various shades of yellow. We have only focused on the more familiar species as space dictates. However,most of all the genus have the same general characters and requirements.


Achillea roseoalba another garden favourite

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Achillea tomemtosa

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5 comments

D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 14 months ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Hi Deb,

I agree with your comments, I think they would dry really well. Best wishes to you.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 14 months ago from Stillwater, OK

All of these flowers look so delicate and gorgeous. I think I'd like them all as accent flowers.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 14 months ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Catherine,

yes the Achillea's will thrive in the dry conditions you are currently experiencing. Your garden sound beautiful. My favourites are the red and yellow varieties, but the bonus is ,as you say, the butterflies and other pollinators that they attract. Thank you for your visit. Best wishes to you.

Devika, glad you enjoyed ,I know you are a keen gardener and have a great knowledge of herbs,both medicinal and culinary types. Thank you for taking the time to leave your comments. Best wishes to you.


DDE profile image

DDE 14 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Beautiful presentation! A new addition from you as always you surprise me with a unique hub.


cat on a soapbox profile image

cat on a soapbox 14 months ago from Los Angeles

Hi Dave! Here in drought stressed So. California Achillea is a landscape favorite esp. since the lacy caps attract butterflies and bees. The common white Achillea millefolium is a native here. I have it as well as a yellow variety in my pollination garden where it blends nicely with salvias, agastache, coreopsis, and Verbena bonariensis. In other areas I grow the Achillea tomemtosa where it fills in nicely along my river rock borders. Do you favor a particular variety or color?

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