Sneezewort

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Sneezewort
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Asterales
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Achillea
Species: A. ptarmica
Binomial name
Achillea ptarmica
L.

Sneezewort (Achillea ptarmica) is one of the species in the genus Achillea domesticated into a perennial garden plant. The form of its flowers is distinct from other domesticated garden achilleas. Rather than the large stiff horizontal plates of small flowers that are common to most species in the genus, this achillea has loose clusters of larger, button-like flowers. Achillea ptarmica varieties give the cloudlike effect of a baby's breath, rather than the formal sculptural form typical of the ornamental strains of common yarrow. However, A. ptarmica shares the long blooming period that has made the many other species and hybrids of achillea so popular in the flower gardens of temperate regions. Several varieties will bloom, at least intermittently, from June to August. The wild strain of the plant has single white flowers produced over prolonged periods beginning in late spring, and has dark green leaves with finely-toothed margins that remain attractive throughout the growing season. Named varieties include clones and seed-grown selections of mutant forms that vary in height, flower size and other characteristics.

This is a hardy, drought-tolerant plant that prefers full sun and moist, but well-drained soil. There are few natural pests and diseases.The plant is usually described as both prolifically flowering and carefree, two traits that account for its success in the perennial garden.

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

Named strains used in horticulture

The common garden version of Achillea ptarmica is a medium height perrennial with white flowers. The strains described in this section are, like the species, hardy in planting zones 3-9.

Angel's White

This 24" variety has double, rather than single, white flowers.

Ballerina

Shorter, but otherwise almost identical to Angel's breath, this double white is about a foot tall.

The Pearl

24", larger and rounder flowers than Angel's white.