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Home>Plant Species>Native Species>Yarrow

Drawing of yarrow Yarrow
Achillea millefolium

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An extract from yarrow can repel mosquitoes!

What is yarrow?
Yarrow is a common perennial forb with many subspecies that are difficult to distinguish visually. Our purpose is not to differentiate between subspecies, but the information will primarily refer to western yarrow (Achillea millefolium ssp. occidentalis).Yarrow leaves

Native Americans used yarrow to make a tea to relieve ear, tooth, and headaches; to reduce swelling; and as a stimulant. During the Civil War, yarrow was used to treat wounds and became known as "soldiers' woundwort." If collected just before it flowers, a tea can be made using the newest leaves. An extract of yarrow also repels mosquitoes.

What are its characteristics?
Yarrow grows 10 to 30 inches in height, with extensive rhizomes and numerous stems. Fern-like leaves and clusters of tiny white flowers give it a distinctive appearance. Yarrow flowersLeaves may be covered with tiny hairs, and the basal leaves can remain green throughout the winter.

The adaptability of yarrow allows it to grow in a wide range of habitats and growing conditions. It is very drought-tolerant, and its life cycle is completed by the onset of the summer drought and fire season in July. Following fire, regeneration is rapid from rhizomes and wind dispersed seeds. Yarrow can increase rapidly in disturbed areas or overgrazed rangelands. It tends to diminish once the disturbance is removed.


What’s its value to the Great Basin?Yarrow plant
Yarrow commonly occupies dry, open sites in a variety of habitats across its range. It can persist on thin soils, and help prevent soil erosion. Browsing animals like sheep, pronghorn, and deer use it, but most often graze only the flower heads. Yarrow is a particularly important food source for sage grouse chicks.

What is its restoration potential?
Rhizomes, ability to re-sprout, high germination rates, and competitive seedlings make yarrow remarkably persistent with fire and other disturbances. It often is one of the first native species to appear on disturbed sites. It has also been used successfully in many revegetation projects. Yarrow doesn’t burn easily, and can be planted as a fire barrier in fire-prone areas, or around property and fire-sensitive areas.

-Drawing:USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / Britton, N.L., and A. Brown. 1913. Illustrated flora of the northern states and Canada. Vol. 3: 515.
-Leaf Photo:Thomas G. Barnes @ USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database.
-Flower: Mary Ellen (Mel) Harte,
-Plant: National Plants Database © Gary A. Monroe.

Text references:
-Aleksoff, Keith C. 1999. Achillea millefolium. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: (, 26 September 2006).
-USDA, NRCS. 2006. The PLANTS Database (, 26 September 2006). National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
-Utah State University, Extension. 2006. Range Plants of Utah website (, 26 September 2006).