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The yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a widespread meadow flower that is also planted in many gardens due to its relatively long flowering period and the colorful cultivars. If you want to eat the plant or use it as a medicinal plant, you should take a very close look.

The yarrow is non-toxic and even a popular medicinal plant

Negative health effects of yarrow itself

Even if yarrow has been a highly valued medicinal plant for many centuries and is basically edible, allergies to composite plants can lead to so-called yarrow dermatitis with blistering. In addition, excessive consumption in the form of teas and salads, the coumarins contained can trigger an increased sensitivity to light. In addition, plants harvested from the garden are preferable to specimens found by the wayside in nature, which may be contaminated with pesticides and dog droppings.

Caution danger: confusing yarrow with poisonous doubles

For people who are less trained in handling medicinal herbs and wild plants, yarrow may be confused with plants such as spotted hemlock or giant hogweed imported from the Caucasus. Both of these plants are poisonous, although eating giant hogweed can even cause death. However, the mere touch when picking bouquets of flowers is enough to trigger the following symptoms:

  • burning in the mouth
  • difficulties swallowing
  • Vomit
  • diarrhea
  • sweats
  • respiratory paralysis

Children in particular should therefore be made aware of the dangers of poisonous plants early on when they go for a walk and be trained in differentiating between certain types of plants.

Yarrow: harmless to animals?

Yarrow is just as safe for most pets as it is for humans. Guinea pigs and tortoises usually love the leaves and stems of yarrow. The plant is also sometimes given to dogs and horses, but they are not always happy to eat it.


Even if there are fundamental similarities between the yarrow and its poisonous "doubles", with a little practice the individual plant species can be distinguished relatively well based on the exact appearance and the respective growth size over the course of the year.

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