Saturday 29 April 2023

A to Z challenge 2023 – Y is for . . .


A to Z challenge 2023 – Y is for . . .

My theme for this challenge is Nature in all much of her wonderful diversity. My posts will reflect the fact that I am resident in the south of England.

All photographs in this post are the property of the writer.

Yellow archangel (Lamium galeobdolon)

Other names for this essentially wild perennial include artillery plant, cobbler’s bench or, my favourite, yellow weasel-snout. It grows throughout the UK but is most common in England and Wales and is a good source of nectar for bees. It prefers to grow in well-drained soil in full sun but will tolerate less favourable conditions.

Its leaves bear a similarity to those of the stinging nettle, but it is unrelated and is known as a dead-nettle. It may have evolved to look like stinging nettles as a defence against predators. It actually belongs in the mint family and its shoots and flowers are edible, either cooked or raw.

The name ‘archangel’ arises because it comes into flower around the time of St Michael’s Day on 27th April.

 St Michael is an archangel in Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Bahai’i faith and is one of the lower angels. The higher orders of angels have more authority over their subordinates and look different. They may also have more wings or faces.

 In Christianity the three highest ranks are Seraphim, Cherubim and Thrones, followed by the middle orders of Dominions, Virtues and Powers. The lowest ranks are Principalities, Archangels and Angels.

There is no such distinction among the dead-nettles.

The Celts believed that dead-nettles would protect them from evil spirits and guard their cattle from ‘elf-shot’. They thought that ‘elf-shot’ or ‘elf-stroke’ was a paralysis caused by arrows fired at the cattle’s heads by elves at the behest of witches.

Dead–nettles have been used for centuries in folk medicine, as a cure for kidney problems and bladder infections. They were also used to treat gout, sciatica and arthritis.

They are still used by herbalists today and there is some scientific evidence of the efficacy of them in treating common ailments.

Dead-nettles present in several different colours as white dead-nettle, red or purple dead-nettle and henbit dead-nettle as well as yellow archangel. Dead-nettles flower from the end of spring to early summer.


Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

Yarrow is a widespread native perennial with a strong sweet scent. It attracts many insects when it flowers between June and November. The flat-topped flowering clusters are composed of many tiny flowers and come in white, pink, and shades of red, yellow and purple. It grows to a height of about 50 cms, forming clumps, and is reputed to be as attractive to butterflies as buddleja.

Yarrow has been used agriculturally to help restore arable land to grassland when sown with other native plants. It has also been introduced as a feed stuff for livestock in Australia and New Zealand.

Yarrow used to be considered a charm against bad luck and illness. Medically, it was used to stop wounds bleeding but conversely it was thought to cause nosebleeds if put up the nose. It is an anti-inflammatory and is an effective topical treatment for bruises and sprains. It is also anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, so good for cuts and stings.  Some birds, including the starling, line their nests with yarrow, perhaps as an inhibitor of parasites.

It is a member of the aster or daisy family.

Other popular names include old man’s pepper, devil’s nettle, milfoil and soldier’s woundwort. In Sweden it is called field hops and has been used to make beer.

‘Achillea’ in the plant’s name refers to the mythological Greek hero, Achilles. According to one legend, Achilles was held by his ankle and bathed in the River Styx. A different version says that he was dipped in water infused with yarrow and that the plant imbued him with its own protective powers. He used the plant to heal his wounded soldiers.

Achilles was killed by an arrow that hit the only weak point in his body, the part that had not been touched by the water, from which arose the expression ‘Achilles heel’, meaning weakness.


  1. I remember yarrow, I have tried to grow it so many times and never succeeded. In different gardens, in the ground, in pots, no success. I did manage to grow buddleia though in several yards over the years.

  2. I think I grew our yarrow in the 'wrong' position - too shaded. It did beautifully then faded and didn't return. I shall try again!

  3. Never saw such a flower ! I am learning !!

  4. We never stop learning - that's what makes life interesting x

  5. We've inherited yellow archangel with the garden, ours is particularly lovely as it's got variegated foliage. I absolutely love the name yellow weasel-snout, must remember that! xxx

    1. I've just come in from some garden-tidying and found masses of yellow weasel-snout so the bees should be happy x

  6. I like yarrow -- I should plant it again.

    Ronel visiting for Y:
    My Languishing TBR: Y
    Yodelling Dwarfs


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