Native to Europe and temperate areas of Asia and North America.
Has a long history as a powerful 'healing herb' used topically for wounds, cuts and abrasions.
The genus was named after Achilles. According to the Iliad, his soldiers used yarrow to treat their wounds. Hence some of its common names such as allheal, bloodwort, herbal militaris, knight's milefoil, sanguinary, woundwort, nosebleed.
The stalks are dried and used as a randomising agent in I Ching divination.
Very popular as a vegetable in the 17th century. The younger leaves are said to be a pleasant leaf vegetable when cooked like spinach, or in a soup. The wild variety looks similar to water hemlock, which is poisonous.
Several cavity-nesting birds, including the common starling, use yarrow to line their nests, to inhibit the growth of parasites.
A frequent component of butterfly gardens.
Centers of diversity in North and South America, and smaller centers in North Africa and the Mediterranean. Member of the legume family, Fabaceae. Good companion plants, they increase soil nitrogen.
Legume seeds, commonly called lupin beans, were popular with the Romans. Now commonly sold in a salty solution in jars, Lupini dishes are commonly consumed with beer. In Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Palestine, salty and chilled beans are called termos and are served as part of an apéritif or a snack. The Andean lupin or tarwi (L. mutabilis) was a widespread food in the Incan Empire. Other species, such as L. albus, L. angustifolius, and L. hirsutus also have edible seeds. Also eaten by many Native American peoples. Known as altramuz in Spain and Argentina. Edible lupins are referred to as sweet lupins because they contain smaller amounts of toxic alkaloids than the bitter lupin varieties. Newly bred variants of sweet lupins are grown extensively in Germany; they lack any bitter taste and require no soaking in salt solution.
Poisonous lupin seeds cause annually the loss of many cattle and sheep on western American ranges.
Native to the Americas.
Flower colors include white, pink, maroon, lavender, green, red, and yellow.
Pale-coloured flowers, often with long petal tubes and a strong scent, are pollinated by various hawkmoths. Species from warmer parts are pollinated by hummingbirds, and typically have red flowers with a shorter tube, and no scent. Similar variation can be seen in honeysuckles and columbines, each with red-flowered species (pollinated by hummingbirds) and pale-flowered species (pollinated by moths).
Some species have so much nicotine that they are poisonous to pollinators, so check before planting.
Native to South Africa.
Introduced to Europe at the close of the 17th century as a handsome greenhouse plant, and is hardy outdoors in the UK if protected from severe frosts. Often grown in containers.
White, blue and lilac varieties.
Considered to be the plant of fertility and pregnancy. Xhosa women use the roots as antenatal medicine, and make a necklace of them as a charm to bring healthy, strong babies. The Zulu use it to treat heart disease, paralysis, coughs, colds, chest pains and tightness. Used with other plants in various medicines taken during pregnancy to ensure healthy children, or to augment or induce labour.
Hikers to put leaves in their shoes to soothe the feet, or wrap feet in them, as they are anti-inflammatory.