064. Achillea millefolium. Common yarrow, or, Milfoil.
Synonyma. Millefolium. Pharm. Edinb.
Millefolium vulgare album. Bauh. Pin. p. 140.
Millefolium terrestre vulgare. Gerard. Emac. p. 1072.
Millefolium vulgare. Park. Theat. p. 693. Raii Hist. p. 345. Synop. p. 183.
Achillea foliis pinnatis, pinnis longe aequalibus, pinnatis, pinnulis trifidis et quinquefidis. Hal. Stirp. Helv. n. 107. A. M. Withering. Bot. Arrang.> p. 941. Curtis Flor. Lond.
Class Syngenesia. Ord. Polygamia Superflua. Lin. Gen. Plant. 971.
Ess. Gen. Ch. Recept. paleaceum. Pappus nullus. Cal. ovatus imbricatus. Flosculi radii circiter quinque.
Spec. Char. A. foliis bipinnatis nudis; laciniis linearibus dentatis; caulibus superne sulcatis.
The root is perennial, creeping, round, and furnished with many whitish fibres: [Dr. Grew observes, that the fresh young roots have a glowing warm taste, approaching to that of Contrayerva, and thinks they might in some measure supply its place.— On Tastes, chap. 5. §. 2.] the stalk is upright, round, towards the bottom smooth and downy, but near the top it is slightly grooved, woolly, branched, and rises above a foot in height: the leaves stand alternately upon the stem, which they partly embrace, and are bipinnated or subdivided into a double series of pinnae: the pinnulae are numerous, narrow, and somewhat pointed: the flowers are white, or tinged with purple, and terminate the stem in a close corymbus: the bracteae are small, pinnatifid, and placed at the peduncles: the calyx is ovate, downy, imbricated with concave oval scales, which are membranous, and fringed at the margins: the corolla is compound, and radiated; at the disc the florets are about twelve, hermaphrodite, funnel-shaped, of the length of the calyx, consisting of a long yellowish tube, divided at the limb into five short segments: at the radius the florets are female, usually five, flat, spreading, roundish, cut at the apex into three teeth, and furnished with a cylindrical, greenish, striated tube, which is about the length of the calyx: the filaments are five, short, and slender: the anthers are yellow, and unite into a cylindrical tube: the germen is oblong, compressed, and supports a filiform style, divided into two reflexed stigmata. It is common in dry pastures, and flowers from July till October.
The leaves and flowers of this plant have an agreeable weak aromatic smell, and a bitterish, rough, and somewhat pungent taste. "The virtue of both is extracted by watery and spirituous menstrua; the astringency most perfectly by the former; their aromatic warmth and pungency by the latter; and both of them equally by a mixture of the two. The flowers, distilled with water, yield a penetrating essential oil, possessing the flavour of the Milfoil in perfection, though rather less agreeable than the flowers themselves." [Vide Lewis's M. M. p. 424.]
This plant appears to be the (greek) [Vide Stratiotes, Matthiol. in Dioscorid.] of the Greek writers, by whom it was esteemed an excellent vulnerary [Vulneraria insuper habetur sub externa usu, jam ab Achille, ut ferunt, sanatione vidnerum subjectorum sibi militum, auctorato. Murray App. Med. vol. i. p. 167.] and styptic, and was generally employed internally as an useful astringent in all haemorrhagic complaints. Instances of its good effects in this way [Haemoptysis, Epistaxis, Menorrhagia, et Haemorrhois.] are likewise mentioned by several of the German physicians, particularly, by Stahl and Hoffman, [Stahl Diss. de Therap. pass. hypoc. Hoffman, De praest. rem. §. 18.] who also recommend it as an efficacious remedy in various other diseases: the former found it not only an astringent, but also a powerful tonic, antispasmodic, and sedative. In proof of the last mentioned quality, we may remark, that in some parts of Sweden it is used in making beer, in order to render it more intoxicating; [Vide Linn. Flor. Suec. p. 299.] and Sparrman has observed, that it is employed for this purpose in some parts of Africa. The leaves and flowers of Milfoil are both directed for medicinal use in the Edinburgh Pharm. in the present practice however this plant, we believe, is wholly neglected.