(Stem. - Simple at first, often branching near the summit. Leaves. - Divided into finely toothed segments. Flower-heads. - White, occasionally pink, clustered, small, made up of both ray and disk-flowers.
This is one of our most frequent roadside weeds, blossoming throughout the summer and late into the autumn. Tradition claims that it was used by Achilles to cure the wounds of his soldiers, and the genus is named after that mighty hero. It still forms one of the ingredients of an ointment valued by the Scotch Highlanders. The early English botanists called the plant "nosebleed," "because the leaves being put into the nose caused it to bleed; " and Gerarde writes that "Most men say that the leaves chewed, and especially greene, are a remedie for the toothache."
These same pungent leaves also won it the name of "old man's pepper," while in Sweden its title signifies field hop, and refers to its employment in the manufacture of beer. Linnaeus considered the beer thus brewed to be more intoxicating than that in which hops were utilized. The old women of the Orkney Islands hold "milfoil tea" in high repute, believing it to be gifted with the power of dispelling melancholy. In Switzerland a good vinegar is said to be made from the Alpine species. The plant is cultivated in the gardens of Madeira, where so many beautiful, and in our eyes rare, flowers grow in wild profusion.