June 22, 2015

Dunes in Bloom: Western Yarrow

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This month we are spotlighting Western Yarrow, Achillea millefolium a member of the Sunflower Family.

Western yarrow is a diminutive gray- to green-leaved perennial ranging from Mendocino County to Baja California.  It is part of the coastal sage scrub community, but can found in more inland areas of the Central Coast and well into the Sierra Nevadas.  Though it can become quite drought resistant, it prefers slightly less arid north-facing slopes.

Young plants have a dense matting of woolly hairs along their deeply lobed leaves giving the plants a woolly, gray appearance.  In early spring the plants produce beautiful white, sunflower-like flowers on the ends of branches.  These continue to bloom until mid-summer when the plants begin to dye back to their woody base and disappear until the first rains of the fall.

Western yarrow was used by Native Americans as a tea that was thought to help stomach problems.  It was also ground into a poultice and applied to the skin for inflammation and to help stop bleeding.

In a garden environment this cold-hardy, drought tolerant plant is a good filler for dry borders where its fine texture compliments grasses, wildflowers, and bold-leaved shrubs.  It will become quite leggy unless deadheaded and pruned. It also makes a nice cut flower. Western Yarrow can be spotted throughout our native garden and the Dunes Center's landscaping.

Have you seen western yarrow in the dunes? Ever consider planting it in your garden? Let us know! We love it when you share your stories and photos with us!


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