COMPOSITE FAMILY - Compositae: Yarrow; Milfoil; Old Man's Pepper; Nosebleed
Flower-heads--Grayish-white, rarely pinkish, in a hard, close, flat-topped, compound cluster. Ray florets 4 to 6, pistillate, fertile; disk florets yellow, afterward brown, perfect, fertile. Stem: Erect, from horizontal root-stalk, 1 to 2 ft. high, leafy, sometimes hairy. Leaves: Very finely dissected (Millefolium = thousand leaf), narrowly oblong in outline.
Preferred Habitat--Waste land, dry fields, banks, roadsides.
Distribution--Naturalized from Europe and Asia throughout North America.
Everywhere this commonest of common weeds confronts us; the compact, dusty-looking clusters appearing not by waysides only, around the world, but in the mythology, folk-lore, medicine, and literature of many peoples. Chiron, the centaur, who taught its virtues to Achilles that he might make an ointment to heal his Myrmidons wounded in the siege of Troy, named the plant for this favorite pupil, giving his own to the beautiful Blue Cornflower (Centaurea Cyanus). As a love-charm; as an herb-tea brewed by crones to cure divers ailments, from loss of hair to the ague; as an inducement to nosebleed for the relief of congestive headache; as an ingredient of an especially intoxicating beer made by the Swedes, it is mentioned in old books. Nowadays we are satisfied merely to admire the feathery masses of lace-like foliage formed by young plants, to whiff the wholesome, nutty, autumnal odor of its flowers, or to wonder at the marvellous scheme it employs to overrun the earth.