Ajuntament de Barcelona

Achillea millefolium

Joan Brossa Garden

    Catalan name: 
    Spanish name: 
    English name: 
    Species characteristics
    Asia and Mediterranean area
    Road sides, streams and humid meadows to a height of 2,400 m

    Perennial herb 0.6-1 m tall, with one or several erect tomentose grooved stems that hardly are ramified. The root has stolons (lateral shoots sprout from the plant's base) and rhizomas (underground stems resembling roots).

    The leaves are long and narrow (15-20 cm long and 1.5 cm wide). Their shape varies from linear-oblong to lanceolate. They are divided into very noticeable segments, which reach almost the central nerve and which, in turn, are divided. The bottom ones, which are lanceolate, have a short petiole, whereas the rest are sessile. The stem is tomentose or has tangled little light thin hairs, which give the plant a velvety appearance and which are also present, even if less densely, on the leaves.

    The very small flowers appear into capitula (inflorescences in which the peduncle makes a disk that is surrounded by bracts) making very dense and compact corymbs (the capitula sprout at different spots of the stem and rise up to a similar level). The ligulate flowers, on the outside of the capitulum, have around five orbicular or quadrangular ligulas (strap formed by all the petals which extends the corolla), 3-4 mm long; they are usually white and feminine. The ones from the disk are usually hermaphrodite, yellowish or whitish and tube-shaped or bell-shaped.

    The fruit is a compressed achenium, 2-3 mm long. Its colour varies from white to grey and its shape from oblong to ovoid.

    Flowering time: 
    Fruiting time: 
    Late spring-late summer
    Uses and properties: 

    Milfoil has several medicine properties.

    It's used in gardening because of its blossoming. Mixed with other vivaces one can obtain very natural looking orchards.

    History and curiosities: 

    The scientific name, Achillea millefolium, consists of the genus name Achillea, coming from the Greek word αχιλλειοϛ , “of Achilles”, with reference to the passage of the Iliad according which Achilles's soldiers used plants of this genus to heal their injuries, and the term millefolium, from the Latin words mille, “thousand”, and folium, “leaf”.

    Besides the medicinal properties of the milfoil, known since ancient times (as some archeological finds in Iraq show), in past times magical powers were attributed to it, thus it was widely used in love potions by witches and witchcrafts.

    For further information: 

    THE ROYAL HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY. Enciclopedia de plantas y flores. Barcelona: Grijalbo, 1996