Monday, May 27, 2013

Western Yarrow

Stop and smell the flowers.

I am not sure where the quote originated. Surely, this advice has been around for a long time. And the sentiment that one needs to slow down and enjoy life is good advice.

One source is a misquote of advice from the golfer Walter Hagen. Walter who? He is third on the list of all-time winners in golf, behind Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods. In his 1956 autobiography "The Walter Hagen Story: by the Haig Himself," Walter's advice was a little more lengthy, "You're only here for a short visit. Don't hurry, don't worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way."

Western Yarrow, Greenwood County, Kansas, May 2013
In Kansas, the Western Yarrow Achillea millefolium usually blooms in June and July. This photograph taken in Greenwood County, the week before the Memorial Day weekend, is jumping the gun a bit. If you stop and smell the Western yarrow, you will find a spicy aroma. Search for it along the highway and in the fields where cattle graze. It is a perennial 1 to 2 feet tall with erect wooly-villous (that's fuzzy to you and I) stems. Leaves alternate and are pinnated (paired off side by side on a central axis like a fern).  The flower heads are numerous. Each head is about 1/4 inch across with 5 white ray florets about 1/8 inch long. The stamen where the pollen is collected, is white and yellow. The flower florets range from 10 to 50 on a stem.

The Latin name of the Western Yarrow comes from Achilles, who used the plant to heal his warriors' wounds. American Indians used the leaves of this plant as a poultice for spider bites and small wounds. They also used the plant for common ailments such as influenza, gout, urinary disorders, and indigestion.  

Western yarrow contains an alkaloid, which can be poisonous; care should be taken in its use.

If you click on the image to see a close-up, you will see insects busily gathering nectar and fertilizing the flower.

No comments:

Post a Comment