Achillea alpina (Siberian Yarrow)

Plant Info
Also known as: Chinese Yarrow, Alpine Yarrow
Genus:Achillea
Family:Asteraceae (Aster)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Status:
  • State Threatened
Habitat:part shade, sun; average to moist soil; open woods, woodland edges, meadows, stream banks, roadsides
Bloom season:July - August
Plant height:20 to 36 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:none
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 7+petals Cluster type: flat

[photo of flowers] Flat clusters 1 to 2 inches across at the top of the stem and arising from upper leaf axils, with 10 to 25 flower heads in a cluster. Individual flower heads are less than ¼ inch across and have 6 to 8 ray flowers (petals) that are white, 1 to 2 mm long, notched at the tips, and often curve downward (recurved). The center disc has 25 to 30 tiny flowers that are creamy white, yellowish or grayish.

[photo of phyllaries and stalks] The flower head is surrounded by a series of narrow bracts (called phyllaries) that are light green with brown edging and sparsely covered in cobwebby hairs. Flower stalks are green and sparsely hairy.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are alternate, up to 4 inches long and 1/3 inch across, linear-oblong, stalkless, and slightly reduced in size as they ascend the stem. Surfaces are hairy and edges have large, sharp teeth and are often double-toothed. Clumps of small of leaves in the leaf axils are common.

[photo of stem] Stems are erect, usually unbranched, green to reddish, weakly angled, hairless to sparsely covered in cobwebby hairs

Fruit: Fruit type: seed without plume

The flower heads become oval-elliptic seed heads, drying to brown. Fruit is a dry seed about 2.5 mm long.

Notes:

Siberian Yarrow is a circumpolar species native to North America and Asia; its range just dips into the Lower 48 in northern North Dakota and Minnesota. Throughout its range it is found in moist meadows, open woods and woodland edges, stream banks, and roadsides.

According to the DNR, it was first discovered here in 1939 north of Longworth, Roseau County, but not seen again until 1983 when the original collection site was revisited. That population was known to still exist in 2008, but we visited as recently as 2017 and saw no sign of it. What we found instead was evidence of widespread herbicide use, presumably by the railroad that owns the land. It is possible that population has been wiped out, but another was recently found in a remote area of Koochiching County and there is an unconfirmed report of a site in Marshall County. There are also still areas of northwest MN that could have suitable habitat but have not yet been surveyed, so additional populations may yet exist. Siberian Yarrow was listed as a Threatened species in 1996, but we believe elevating to Endangered could be warranted since the Roseau population may have been exterminated and the Koochiching site is showing signs of impending development, which would likely destroy that population as well.

Siberian Yarrow is recognized by its alternate, linear-oblong, stalkless leaves that are edged with large, sharply pointed teeth and often double-toothed. Stems, leaves and phyllaries are covered in sparse, cobwebby hairs. Flower heads have 6 to 8 ray flowers (petals) that are white, squarish, notched at the tip, less than 3 mm long and often recurved; the center disk flowers are grayish to yellowish. The flowers resemble those of the ubiquitous Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), which has rays that are typically flat, not recurved, and about twice the size, and its leaves are much more finely divided.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken in Koochiching County.

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