The genus Achillea Linnaeus

Remark The words or terms in red (actually dark orange) in the text are defined in a glossary.

july_20_20.thmb can't be loaded. The Achillea genus consists of 80 to 100 species, confined almost entirely to the temperate regions of the Old World. The genus contains species from mountainous regions that are low-growing and mat-forming. Other species are native to grassland or dry waste ground. These are taller and herbaceous.

The plants of the genus are perennial, strongly scented. Their leaves are grey-green or green, alternate, simple to pinnately dissected, more or less hairy. Their inflorescence is a flat-topped cluster with bell-shaped or ovoid involucres. The capitula have more disk florets than ray florets. The corollas are short, white to purple or yellow. The fruits are oblong to obovate, glabrous, without pappus.

The genus belongs to the Asteraceae family.


The genus name is said to be named for the Greek hero Achilles, about 1200 B.C., who supposedly used plants of the genus Achillea to staunch the wounds of his soldiers and heal their wounds at the siege of Troy, or, reputedly used it to treat his own wounds during the Trojan War; but, alas, Achillea millefolium couldn't save Achilles himself when he was shot with an arrow through his heel. A less romantic interpretation of the genus name is that is commemorates a Greek doctor named Achilles who recorded the medicinal uses of the plant.

The Achillea of Québec

The taxonomy of the Achillea genus is not definitive; a tentative taxonomy could be: