The botanical name Achellea (or yarrow, as we know it) honors Achilles, the Trojan warrior, who regularly gave an infusion made from yarrow to his soldiers to treat their wounds.
However, Achilles had his own problems that yarrow could not cure. In Greek mythology, Achilles was a Greek hero of the Trojan War and was considered the most handsome of the heroes assembled against Troy. Legends state that Achilles was invulnerable in all of his body except for his heel. When he died by a poisonous arrow shot into his heel, the term “Achilles’ heel” has come to mean a person’s principal weakness.
Yarrow contains more than 240 chemicals, and has been used for centuries to treat a variety of internal and external maladies including pain, fevers, gastrointestinal distresses, wounds, burns, bruises, lesions, sprains and strains. Dried flowers, leaves and even roots were steeped in boiling water to make a tea-like infusion that was consumed or applied topically.
Yarrow is most commonly available in golden yellow hues although cottage yarrow is available in a range of pinks, reds and oranges as well as white.
The small clusters of flowers add color, texture and warmth to floral arrangements. The flat flowers and soft foliage contrast nicely with spiky cut flowers like liatris, Bells of Ireland, veronica and snapdragons.