Friday, July 17, 2009

Yarrow - Achillea millefolium

I have had Yarrow growing in my garden for over 25 years. It's a herbaceous perennial and comes back every year. I cannot say that I am extremely fond of this plant. I fact, I have often thought of taking it right out of my garden.

The only thing that stopped me from doing so was the cat we had some years ago, called Tobi. He was our favourite cat back then and he loved to sleep in my yarrow. It has long, feathery leaves that provided an inviting spot for this tabby. There he would spend his hot summer days - comfortable on the soft yarrow leaves, shaded by the towering umbrel-like blossoms and watching the butterflies and other insects who were attracted to this plant. He was a happy cat!
Here he is on an Easter morning!

We had Tobi for almost 19 years. He was a wonderful cat - no bad behaviours, just a faithful furry 'boy'. He even helped with the laundry! Tobi lived a long happy life in our family until his kidneys gave out. He passed away quietly in our solarium one New Year's Day.

We had him cremated and the following spring, we buried his ashes in the garden, under the Yarrow plants that he loved so much. Now I look at my Yarrow plants with a smile, thinking of that wonderful cat who graced us with his presence for so many years. I will never dig it up!

Yarrow is drought resistant and will grow in even the poorest of soil. There are many common names for this plant and it has a long history of medicinal use. It has even been grown as a food product. The young leaves have been cooked like spinach. It has a history of being used for everything from an astringent, a tonic, a stimulant and as a dressing for open wounds. The Genus name of Achillea is based on the belief that Achilles carried this plant into battle to treat his soldiers. Yarrow can be used as a beneficial companion plant. It supposedly keeps away bad bugs and attracts good ones. It is also said to improve the health of the plants around it.

The yarrow I planted is a light pink colour. But this year I noticed that I also had some white yarrow growing right next to the pink. It was much shorter and came into bloom a couple of weeks before the pink yarrow. Also, it's leaves are smaller. I think it might be a wild variety. I have no idea how it got there, but I am going to let it stay - in Tobi's honour.

Family: Asteraceae. Genus: Achillea. Species: A. millefolium.
Common Names: Yarrow, Common Yarrow, Nosebleed Plant, Soldier's Woundwort.


  1. What a great story about dear Tobi who is now forever with you in mind and soil.
    We all have stories about our beloved cats. But you do it so well. Our first cat was named Klopje. We had her very long. When her time came she crawled into a box and passed away peacefully. So long ago, but you never forget.

  2. Tobi was more than just a pet, he was part of our family. He will always be sorely missed.