Horticulture Heading


Book cover - Common Weeds of New ZealandAn Illustrated Guide to
Common Weeds
of New Zealand


Achillea millefolium


Reproduced from
Common Weeds of New Zealand
by Ian Popay, Paul Champion & Trevor James
ISBN 0 473 09760 5
by kind permission of the
New Zealand Plant Protection Society

Publication or other use of images or descriptive text on these pages is unauthorised unless written permission is obtained from the authors and publisher.
Appropriate acknowledgement of the publication Common Weeds of New Zealand must always be given.

Available from Touchwood Books

Achillea millefolium - yarrow

Erect or mat-forming, rhizomatous, pleasant smelling perennial with feathery leaves, often forming extensive patches on cultivated ground or in grassland. White or occasionally pink flowers in heads in clusters at the top of flower stalks, often about 50 cm high. Very common in pastures, along road-sides and in waste places.

  • Flowers Individual flowers white, sometimes pink or reddish, 5-10 mm in diameter, composite, with four to seven white, pink or red ray florets and ten to twelve creamy disk florets. Flowers arranged in dense, flat-topped, terminal compound corymbs up to about 15 cm across. Flowers Dec-May.
  • Fruit Greyish flattened achenes (seeds) 2 mm long, with narrow pale brown wings and no pappus hairs.
  • Leaves Feathery, dark green, stalked, lance-shaped basal leaves up to 15 cm long by 2 cm wide, two- or three-times pinnate. Stem leaves smaller and less divided.
  • Stems Erect or curved upwards at the tips, leafy, finely-furrowed, downy further up.
  • Roots Fibrous, arising from nodes on the rhizomes.


Arable land, pasture, waste areas, road-sides, railways, industrial sites, lawns, marshy and coastal places.


Common throughout NZ and the offshore islands, especially in drier areas. Originally from Europe, Caucasia, Iran, Siberia and the Himalayas.


A very widespread weed and component of pastures. It used to be sown as a drought-tolerant pasture species and is readily grazed by stock. Since the time of Achilles, yarrow has had a reputation for healing wounds. It also has a number of other medicinal uses, including treatment of fevers, muscular ailments and respiratory complaints.

Derivation of botanical name

Achillea (Gr.) = after the hero Achilles, said to have used it medicinally; millefolium (Lat.) = thousand-leaved, a reference to the finely divided leaves.

Last updated: July 13, 2014