Yarrow, (Achillea Millefolium) is very common to fields, pastures, disturbed areas, roadsides, previously disturbed prairies and open sites throughout the Tallgrass biome. Tiny white flowers in umbels at the top of the plant bloom from June to September. Feathery, fern-like leaves up to 5 inches long. Generally reaches about 1 1/2 feet tall but does grow slightly taller in some places.
Achillea after Achilles of Greek mythology who is said to have used it medicinally and millifolia meaning “thousand-leaved”.
Asteraceae Family – “Common Yarrow, Gordaldo, Gordoloba, Milfoil, Knight’s Milfoil, Milfoil Thousand-leaf, Bloodwort, Woundwort, Devil’s Plaything, Green Arrow, Thousand Leaf, Thousand-seal, Thousand-leaved clover, Cammock, Carpenter Grass, Dog Daisy, Wooly Yarrow, Nosebleed Weed, Old Man’s Pepper, Sanguinary, Soldier’s Woundwort”
|Bloom Time||Spring, Summer
June, July, August, September
|Max Height||2 feet|
|Seeds Per Ounce|
An herbal tea made from the entire flowering plant was used to treat colds, fever, anorexia, indigestion, gastric troubles, and internal bleeding. Fresh plant often used as a styptic poultice; some qualities of this species as an expectorant and analgesic made it useful in the treatment of cold and flu symptoms; Native Americans across North America used it similarly. It was also used as a very effective coagulant and was used to quell the flow of blood for everything from deep gashes to arrow and/or spear wounds. The leaves were soaked in water and packed into the nostril(s) to stem the flow of nosebleeds. Yarrow leaves were boiled by both Native Americans and early settlers to creat a wash for eyes irritated from dust, glare and snow blindness. The same wash also provided great relief as a fever wash and was applied to areas suffering painful, persistent itching such as from poison ivy or poison oak. A poultice of bruised Yarrow leaves was laid over or bound to the forehead to relive headache pain. The mashed leaves were also inserted into the outer ear to relieve earache pain almost instantaneously. Native Americans also favored Yarrow baths for the treatment of arthritis.
There are two notations of this plant’s use as a local anesthetic recorded by the Research Service of the USDA. One involved a Nevada Native American suffering from a deep thigh wound which had become partially filled by dirt and sand. Fresh, heavily scrubbed yarrow root was crushed to a spongy consistency and applied gently to the wound.After about thirty minutes, the root mass had dulled the pain enough so the wound cound be opened and cleaned with no discomfort to the patient. In the second case, a deeply embedded splinter could not be removed initially and the area of the wound became infected. After thirty minutes soaking in a solution of pulverized yarrow root, the infected area was lanced and the splinter removed with no pain to the patient. These numbing qualities also resulted in the use of the boiled and mashed leaves being inserted into teeth suffering from painful toothache.
Leaves: Raw or cooked. A rather bitter flavour, they make an acceptable addition to mixed salads and are best used when young. The leaves are also used as a hop-substitute for flavouring and as a preservative for beer etc. Although in general yarrow is a very nutritious and beneficial plant to add to the diet, some caution should be exercised.
An aromatic tea is made from the flowers and leaves.
Yarrow has a high reputation and is widely employed in herbal medicine, administered both internally and externally. It is used in the treatment of a very wide range of disorders but is particularly valuable for treating wounds, stopping the flow of blood, treating colds, fevers, kidney diseases, menstrual pain etc, . The whole plant is used, both fresh and dried, and is best harvested when in flower. Some caution should be exercised in the use of this herb since large or frequent doses taken over a long period may be potentially harmful], causing allergic rashes and making the skin more sensitive to sunlight. The herb combines well with Sambucus nigra flowers (Elder) and Mentha x piperita vulgaris (Peppermint) for treating colds and influenza.
The herb is antiseptic, antispasmodic, mildly aromatic, astringent, carminative, cholagogue, diaphoretic, digestive, emmenagogue, odontalgic, stimulant, bitter tonic, vasodilator and vulnerary. It also contains the anti-inflammatory agent azulene, though the content of this varies even between plants in the same habitat. The herb is harvested in the summer when in flower and can be dried for later use.
The growing plant repels beetles, ants and flies. The plant has been burnt in order to ward off mosquitoes.
A liquid plant feed can be made from the leaves]. You fill a container with the leaves and then add some water. Leave it to soak for a week or two and then dilute the rather smelly dark liquid, perhaps 10 – 1 with water though this figure is not crucial.
This plant is an essential ingredient of ‘Quick Return’ herbal compost activator]. This is a dried and powdered mixture of several herbs that can be added to a compost heap in order to speed up bacterial activity and thus shorten the time needed to make the compost.
The fragrant seeds have been used to impart a pleasant smell indoors.
An essential oil obtained from the leaves is used medicinally. The leaves contain from 0.6 to 0.85% essential oil.
The leaves have been used as a cosmetic cleanser for greasy skin.
Yellow and green dyes are obtained from the flowers.
A good ground cover plant, spreading quickly by its roots.
Warning! – Can cause dermatitis in many individuals; contains thujone, a known toxin.