This common Composite is found throughout the North Temperate and Arctic Zones in Arctic Europe, Temperate and cold North Asia, the Himalayas, and N. America, but is not found in any early deposits. It is found in all parts of Great Britain, and up to about 4000 ft. in the Highlands.

Yarrow or Milfoil is common in all sorts of habitats up and down the country. It is to be found in fields and meadows, especially dry pastures, along the roadside and on waste ground, preferring sandy soil, and growing on the margins of arable land, allotments, and gardens, in which last it is encouraged for its fever-curing properties.

The glistening leaves of the Milfoil with its thousands of delicate leaflets bathed in silvery dew on a frosty morning are a familiar sight not soon forgotten. The stems are erect, rigid, striate, and prostrate below, but ascend at the tip, and are angular. The leaves have the lobes on each side of the stalk divided again, slightly hairy, alternate, linear, narrowly elliptical, the radical leaves stalked, the segments very slender and narrow. The bottom of the stem is covered with a dense cobweb-like down.

The flowers are numerous, and borne in close terminal corymbs in which the flower-stalks are shortened and form a flat-topped flower-head. The ray florets are large in proportion, equalling half the whorl of leaf-like organs. The leaf-like organs are downy with a brownish margin blunt and hollow. The disk florets are funnel-shaped with a dirty-yellow tube. The fruit is smooth and shining. The flowerheads are often pink.

The height varies from 1 to 2 ft. Flowers are to be found between June and September. Milfoil is a deciduous, herbaceous, perennial, propagated by division.

The head is made up of several small florets, which make it attractive, and lead to cross-pollination. The disk florets have a tube 2 mm. long, with a throat 1 mm. long, and wide, having five triangular teeth. At the base of the style a ringlike ridge secretes honey. The honey rises in the tube and short-lipped insects can reach it. The lobes of the style are pressed together when the flowerhead opens, and project with spreading hairs into the lower part of the cylinder. When the style lengthens pollen is pressed out of the upper end of the tube, the lobes of the style project and spread, turning the stigmatic ends upwards, bending the hairy tips back so that some pollen sticks to them, and so is not left for insects. When the pollen is pushed up the tube projects beyond the corolla. When the stigmas project the tube lies lower in the corolla, depressed by the contracting filaments. In this way the stigmas may lie above the corolla where the pollen was. As the abdomen of an insect sweeps over a flower it touches many florets, and also causes cross-pollination.

Milfoil (Achillea Millefolium, L.)

Photo. B. Hanley - Milfoil (Achillea Millefolium, L.)

Twenty florets develop towards the centre from the disk, 3 mm. broad, and the five marginal florets have an external lobe 3 mm. long and broad, so that the disk is 9-10 mm. across. The florets of each marginal ray have a highly developed corolla at the expense of the stamens, which are absent. The style has spreading lobes with stig-matic papillae.

The fruit is compressed and margined, and thus adapted for wind dispersal. There is no pappus.

Milfoil is especially at home on sand soils, and is a sand plant, growing on many different rock soils.

The fungi Puccinia millefolium and Sphaerotheca humuli are found upon it. The minute leaflets are galled by Tylenchus Millefolii, and by Hormomyia Millefolii. Many insects choose it for their food plant, e.g. beetles, Cassida ferruginea, C. biber, C. subferruginea, C. sanguino-lenta, Olibrus millefolii; a Hymenopterous insect, Prosopis Masoni; several Lepidoptera, e.g. Beautiful Brocade {Hadena contigua), Straw Belle (Aspilates Gilvaria), Bordered Lime Speck (Eupithecia succentu-riatd), Coleophora argentula, Belted Beauty (Nyssia zonaria), Small Dusty Wave (Acidalia incanaria), Dicranorampha petiverella, Buccula-trix cristatella, Pterophora ochrodactylus, Netted Carpet (Cidaria reticulata), Essex Emerald (Creometra smaragdaria). Lesser Cream Wave (Acidalia immutata); two Homoptera, Eupteryx tenella, Aphalara nervosa; two Heteroptera, Camplotrochus lutescens, Macrocoleus tana-ceti; and the flies Homnomyia millefolii, Carpotricha guttularis, Cnemo-pogon apicalis.

Achillea, Theophrastus, is named after Achilles, who is said to have first discovered that it healed wounds, and Millefolium, Tragus, is from the Latin mille, thousand, folium, leaf, the reference being to its much-divided leaves.

The following names show its universal use: Green Arrow, Arrow-root, Blood wort, Camil, Cammock, Carpenter-grass, Thousand-leaved Clover, Devil's Nettle, Dog Daisy, Eerie, Garwe, Stanch or Stench Girs, Hundred-leaved Grass, Melefowr, Milfoil, Nosebleed, Old Man's Mustard, Old Man's Pepper, Wild Pepper, Sanguinary, Sneezewort, Tansy, Thousand-leaf Yallow, Yarrow, Yarroway.

Eerie is a corruption of Yarrow. "Lassies used to take it and put in their breasts" as a charm, repeating this rhyme:

Eerie, eerie, I do pluck,

And in my bosom I do put,

The first young lad that speaks to me

The same shall my true lover be.

Green Arrow is a corruption for Green Yarrow:

Green Arrow, Green Arrow, you bears a white blow.

If my love love me, my nose will bleed now,

If my love don't love it 'ont bleed a drop,

If my love do love me 't will bleed every drop.

"In some places it is called Carpenter Grasse, it is good to rejoyne and soundre woundes." The name Devil's Nettle is given because children draw the leaves across their faces, which leaves a tingling sensation. From the styptic properties it was supposed to possess it was called Stanch or Stench Grass or Girs.

Melefowr was for Milfoil. "Plucking ane herb called Melefowr quhilk causis the nose bleed, sitting on the right knee and pulling it behind the mid-finger and thombe and saying, 'nomine Patres Filii et spiritus sancti', was to impart the faculty of prediction." As to the name Nose Bleed, Parkinson says, "assuredly it will stay the bleeding of it". But this property of the plant seems to be popularly credited in more than one district, and it forms the basis of a love divination: "'Tis an old superstition to take a leaf and tell one to put it up his nose, turn it thrice round, and all the while think of his sweetheart, if his nose bleeds he is sure to get her. The application scarcely ever fails, at least if the leaf be smartly turned."

Yarrow was an old cure for ague. When carried about the person it was believed to drive away fear, and so worn in time of danger. It is bitter, and was used for a variety of complaints, as a cure for wounds, for spasmodics, and hypochondria. An essential oil has been distilled from the flowers. It is put in beer in Sweden. Brewed as a tea, it is a good remedy for colds and influenza.

Essential Specific Characters: 157. Achillea Millefolium, L. - Stem erect, rigid, angular, woolly, leaves bipinnatifid, downy, leaflets linear, flowerheads small, numerous, in a corymb, terminal, disk florets white or yellow, ray pink or white, phyllaries glabrous.