Plant of the Week: Achillea Ageratum ‘Moonwalker’

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My first interaction with Yarrow was almost ten years ago when an ex-boyfriend cut himself in the shower unexpectedly (don’t ask). One of my industrious friends said that we should put yarrow on it because she had done so once when diving head first into a swimming hole and her gaping wound had healed wonderfully. So we made a poultice and pressed it against the wound. At the time, it seemed very magical to gather something from the garden and use it as a medicene, which is something I had never thought of.

Yarrow or Sweet Maudlin or English Mace or Sneezewort or scientifically known as Achillea can be found all over the world, though the origins of its name is most certainly Greek. It’s name being derived from the Greek myth of Achilles. In the Iliad, Achilles soldiers use yarrow to treat their wounds.

These pictures are of Achillea Ageratum “Moonwalker” my most favorite of all the yarrows.

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Yarrows uses are prolific and varied and go back centuries and can be seen very clearly even today. The phyto-therapeutic uses of Achillea can be inspected in the many papers I was able to find that study the anti fungal, anti-imflammatory, antimicrobial (just a few of its) properties. Some of the papers having names such as,

“Cytostatic activity of Achillea ageratum L.” or ”Essential oil composition and antimicrobial activity of wild and cultivated Moroccan Achillea ageratum L.: a rare and threatened medicinal species.” or ”Study of the topical anti-inflammatory activity of Achillea ageratum on chronic and acute inflammation models.”

In the Middle Ages, Achillea Ageratum, was used as a strewing herb to repel moth, lice, ticks and to spread a generally good smell. (At that time people did not shower as often so the spreading of fragrant herbs upon the floors of a household became popular and as people stepped upon the herbs the smells would emanate and their benefits released.)

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Yarrow stalks were also famously used as traditional tools for casting the I Ching.

If divination weren’t enough, yarrow is also of use to the single woman, it is said they were used as aids to find a husband. In Ireland women would dig up the plant and place it under their pillow and supposedly would then dream of their future husband.

I have also read it to be an ancient Viagra leading to other names such as “Old Man’s pepper-pot” and “Bad mans plaything”.

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Other than being a marvelous plant with medicinal properties and a fantastic history they are EASY! I have been the laziest bum in the entire century this season and in this horrible year of drought and my insistence in not watering once, it has come back in all it’s glory, persistently and perfectly. Drought tolerant and an easy cut flower, it’s ferny foliage is delicate, hardy, and beautiful. It is beneficial to insects and makes the perfect landing pads for butterflies. Ageratum is especially beautiful in my opinion and the roundedness of each of its little flowers makes me love it.
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(P.S. This is Maggie. A lifelong friend and a clown! She is about to run off to Peru for the sixth time to join Patch Adams on one of his yearly humanitarian clown missions. The garden is also in sort of full bloom and it was a pleasure to spend some time with her. )

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