Sneezewort

Achillea ptarmica
Aster family (Asteraceae)


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Achillea ptarmica is a European species of herbaceous perennial flowering plant in the genus Achillea of the daisy family Asteraceae. Common names include the sneezewort, sneezeweed, bastard pellitory, European pellitory, fair-maid-of-France, goose tongue, sneezewort yarrow, wild pellitory, and white tansy. It is widespread across most of Europe and naturalized in scattered places in North America.

Achillea ptarmica has loose clusters of showy white composite flower heads that bloom from June to August. Its dark green leaves have finely toothed margins. Like many other plants, the sneezewort's pattern of development displays the Fibonacci sequence.

The name ptarmica comes from the Greek word ptairo (=sneeze) and means 'causes sneezing'.

Uses

Leaves can be eaten raw or cooked. Achillea ptarmica yields an essential oil that is used in herbal medicine. The leaves are used as an insect repellent.

The plant is poisonous to cattle, sheep, and horses. Symptoms are generally slow to develop, and include fever, rapid pulse, difficulty breathing, weight loss, drooling, spasms and loss of muscular control, and convulsions.

Cultivation

This is a hardy, drought-tolerant plant that prefers full sun and moist but well-drained soil. Propagation is by sowing seed or division in Spring.

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