I found this plant invading an unirrigated school yard lawn in Everett, Washington (USDA zone 8a):

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This plant is very effectively competing with the grass and might make a good lawn replacement. The foliage is feathery similar to many plants in the Asteraceae family. It spreads on rooting stolons as seen below.

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Does anyone know what it is? Since it has been regularly mowed, I do not know its mature height or anything about its flower. My best guess at the moment is some sort of yarrow (Achillea).

The plant is on my way to and from work. So if you need me to verify any identifying features, I can do that.

Additional Observations:

The foliage of this plant is not especially aromatic. If I smash up a bunch of leaves and stuff them in my nose (and close my eyes and think of Kentucky), they smell slightly grassy.

  • I believe you're correct in it's some sort of yarrow. Before posting my guess (Common yarrow - Achillea millefolium), can you please confirm or not if it has a strong odor/smell...
    – Mike Perry
    Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 19:58
  • @MikePerry: The plant has no odor at all. Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 20:43
  • Then it's not likely to be Common yarrow, though I definitely believe you're correct in it's some-kind of yarrow. Take a look at this PDF from Washington State University Extension: C194 Lawn Substitutes 05.PDF
    – Mike Perry
    Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 22:01
  • What is Achillea millefolium suppose to smell like? Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 23:17
  • Most say it's pungent (but not overpowering), others say it smells like sage, while a few describe it as a fruity, grassy scent... Trying bruising a few of the leaves & see if that releases a smell...
    – Mike Perry
    Commented Oct 17, 2011 at 23:36

1 Answer 1


That looks like Yarrow, Achillea millefolium. I have some identical to it that. It has a strong, pungent scent something like a carrot. It will grow as a very good lawn substitute, taking moderate to heavy foot traffic in full sun to shade. It does well mowed every two weeks during the active growing season. It prefers a well drained location (no sitting water). I think this is a viable option for a low maintenance lawn in a dry location, but it is not resistant to most lawn-weed selective herbicides, so you will have to weed it by hand.

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  • 1
    If aromatic foliage is an identifying characteristic of Achillea millefolium, then the pictured plant probably is not Achillea millefolium. It is possible the aromatic foliage is a feature that some plants of the species have but some do not. Do you know if that is true? Is there some other specific feature that that makes you think it is A. millefolium as opposed to some other Achillea, or a Matricaria or an Anthemis? If you want me to check for some identifying feature, I can do that. Commented Oct 24, 2011 at 5:17

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