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Plant of the Month | Yarrow

Newton Road Cemetery November 2022 | Joan Stacey


Yarrow (Achillea Millefolium)

Although we are well into autumn, Yarrow is still flowering freely in the cemetery and can be identified by its white or sometimes pale lilac flowers. It belongs to the Asteraceae/Compositae family and the angular, slightly rough stems bear terminal flower heads which are made up of many tiny individual florets.


The attractive leaves may be 4 inches long and are finely cut giving them a feathery or fern like appearance.


It grows widely in grass, meadows and roadsides. As it spreads both by its seeds and creeping roots, it can become a tiresome garden weed. The Anglo Saxon name was ‘gearwe ‘and it has had, and still has, a wide variety of culinary and medicinal uses. It was also called Herba Militaris, Soldier’s Woundwort and Staunchweed from its usefulness in treating battlefield casualties by reducing bleeding, preventing infection and encouraging healing.

The plant has a slight aniseed flavour and was used in making beer, liqueurs and herbal teas. It could also be added to salads.


It’s a quirky flower but comes with a traditional message as a symbol of everlasting love, of being brave and courageous and saying “I love you in spite of everything!” If you plan to use herbal remedies, it is best to stay safe and take expert advice.


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