A long time ago, far back in the days of heroic Greece when men were gods and gods were men, the hero Achilles, it is said, discovered certain medicinal virtues in aromatic leaves which he used in treating Telephus during the plague. That is the legend - and at any rate the plant which is native of Europe and Asia has been named Achillea for a good many centuries. Yarrow, we call it, and know it as a common and not unpleasantly scented weed of the summer fields and roadsides.
Achillea millefolium L.
June - July Fields, pastures.
Yarrow is a grey-green plant, a stiff, fibrous stalk bearing numerous very finely divided leaves, almost fernlike in appearance. The basal rosette of fern-like leaves is larger than the stem leaves and remains throughout the winter. The stem near the top branches and at the top of each divided branch is a fiat head of small while (lowers. These are arranged with five squarish, petal-like rays around a yellowish-white, stiff center of stamens and pistil. When the yarrow is in bloom it presents to the summer sunshine and rain a compact, flat head or corymb of flowers which lasts a long time. When the plant at last has served it- time and the flower stalk dies, the flower head remains in a dry state much as it was in life.
The entire plant is aromatic, an odor not unpleasant to most people, hut when cows mistakenly nibble yarrow leaves, a strong and most unpleasant flavor and -cent i- given to the milk. When grass in the pasture is ample and green, cows seldom or never eat yarrow or other undesirable plants, hut when pasturage is low and food scarce, even the distasteful yarrow may be devoured.