Fascinating plant has picked up many names
YOU find out some weird and wonderful things when you are out and about in the natural world.
And a great way to learn about plants and creatures is to take in a couple of facts – no matter how strange – every time you see them.
I live close to Chorley, home to the lovely Yarrow Valley Country Park, but I never really thought much about yarrow until this week.
At the moment yarrow can be seen growing in meadows and even on roadside verges. Yarrow is an amazing plant that can survive the toughest summer droughts because of its deep roots.
While many flowers have faded at this time of year the white or lilac mini flowers of the yarrow are still there to keep our insects happy.
However, the most amazing thing about the yarrow is the sheer number of names it has picked up over the years.
First of all there is Soldier’s Woundwort, Bloodwort, and Staunchweed, mainly to do with the fact that it was used to place on wounds to help healing during wars.
In some communities it probably continues to be used on wounds along with more modern remedies.
This is especially true in the Highlands where it is made into an ointment.
Apparently it was also used to stop nose bleeds and some people do still call it Nose Bleed and Sanguinary.
The yarrow’s leaves are made up of many segments leading to more names – Thousand Weed and Knight’s Milfoil, and a former use as snuff, hence Old Man’s Pepper. Some of this could also refer to the fact that larger plants produce an astonishing 3,000 seeds.
As if that wasn’t enough, witches and the like used yarrow to cast spells on people and created a whole string of names – Bad Man’s Plaything, Devil’s Plaything and Devil’s Nettle. Good grief this poor plant must have a real identity crisis.
People even ate it as part of salads and yarrow tea is good for colds – you can find the recipes on the internet but, as with all wild remedies, take care.
Another reason you need to take extra care is that this multi-named plant looks quite similar to hemlock.
It is quite dizzying to think that a lot of our native plants have wonderful back stories, so while you may think that yarrow by the side of the path is boring, think again.
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●● The flowers of the yarrow plant are still going strong