By Granny Earth, ND
The name ‘Yarrow’ is a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon name for the plant –gearwe and the Dutch, yerw. It’s said that Achilles staunched the bleeding wounds of his fellow soldiers in the war with Troy, hence the name of the genus, Achillea. Its specific name-millefolium, is derived from the many segments of its foliage, hence its popular name, Milfoil and Thousand Weed. Yarrow is a perennial weed, growing wild, all around here in Pennsylvania. This wild variety has white flowers, grows in full sun and any type of soil, and up to 4 feet tall. (Other types of Yarrow are yellow).
If you’re planting Miss Yarrow in your garden, you’ll want to leave about one foot of space between each plant. She’s easy to grow and will return year after year for your health and sheer enjoyment!
The seeds germinate in 2 weeks at temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees. Light is necessary for seed germination, which takes only five to seven days.
A native to Europe and Asia, Yarrow’s foliage is ‘fern-like,’ very gentle and pleasing to the eye. She is drought resistant and will grow well in any type of soil. Blooming in June, you’ll find that if you pick the flowers, she’ll bloom again in September – giving you two harvests. The flowers dry nicely if hung upside down for a few weeks, providing you with a nice dried bouquet to admire all winter long.
Yarrow may be taken internally for a variety of uses:
- fever and infectious diseases
- stops internal bleeding
- cleanses the liver, kidney and bladder
- heals mucous membranes
- stops diarrhea
- heals lungs
- aids circulation
- balances the endocrine system
Externally, Yarrow can be used as an antiseptic for wounds, rashes and deep punctures. For these you would use as a poultice, or compress.
Yarrow exhibits diaphoretic, hypotensive, astringent, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, anti-microbial, bitter and hepatic (good for liver) properties. She has a high content of magnesium, calcium and phosphorus, which makes her a useful candidate for muscle spasms, depression, hyper-tension, muscle weakness, convulsions, confusion, personality changes, nausea, lack of coordination and gastrointestinal disorders.
Yarrow is one of the best diaphoretic herbs, and is a standard remedy for helping the body deal with common colds and fevers. She lowers blood pressure (with dilation of the peripheral vessels), stimulates digestion and tones up the blood vessels, too. Yarrow also helps regulate menstrual cycles, reduces heavy bleeding and eases menstrual pain. As a urinary antiseptic, she’s indicated for use with infections, such as cystitis.
Preparations of Yarrow flower have also been shown to stimulate gastric juices. This would account for her effectiveness as a tonic for improved digestion of foods, due to the presence of bitter substances in the blossoms.
The smell of Yarrow is also helpful in reducing stress and aids in restful sleep. I’ve never tried it, but I’ll just bet that adding some Yarrow flowers to your bath along with Violet would be an exceptional treat! I once planted ‘Golden Yarrow’ from seed and got a tremendous crop. Year after year, she comes back, bigger and more beau-tiful than ever! Cutting the flowers at mid-summer and drying them upside down, the beautiful golden color never changes. It stays that way all winter long . . . just a bit of color to help me endure the long and dreary winter months.