Yarrow thumbnail Yarrow - Achillea millefolium:


This is a tall gangly plant, with yellow, white or pink flowers which bloom in mid to late summer, which is the best time for harvesting it. Typically, it is the flowers which are harvested. The leaves are feather-like in appearance. An alternate name is milfoil.

Growing Info:

Yarrow is a hardy plant, able to survive under a variety of growing conditions. Originally an inhabitant of Europe, it is often found growing wild on the roadsides. It prefers sun. It is useful as a perennial groundcover in gardens.

Culinary Uses:

I am not aware of any culinary uses. Yarrow is a bitter herb, but that hasn't stopped some folks from using asoefetida as a culinary seasoning.

Medicinal Uses in Folklore:

Allegedly helpful with relieving headaches, toothaches, indigestion, and colds. It may be useful as an antiseptic, and can promote blood clotting as well as reducing blood pressure. Ingesting yarrow can induce sweating. Internally, it is drunk as a tea; externally it may be applied as a poultice on wounds. It has been used on piles. Made into a shampoo, folkore has it that yarrow can prevent baldness.

Scanning the Scientific Literature:

*For some individuals, the ingredient, alpha-peroxyachifolid, found in extract of yarrow, is a contact allergen. This allergen is found more prevalently in the blossoms than in the stalks, and has been discerned in some market preparations.

*Yarrow extract (not purified) has demonstrated some bactericidal effect against Staphlococcus aureus, a common bacteria. A topical application of Yarrow seems to have some wound-healing properties. In an experimental model of rodent diabetes, yarrow possessed marked hypoglycemic and glycogen sparing properties which deserve further study.

David Potterton (rf Culpeper) states that cineol is at least one of the active ingredients in yarrow. As of this writing, I have no further information from Medline.

Other Info:

There are two basic ways of consulting the I Ching, the ancient Chinese divinitory system. One involves the throwing of three coins to generate the hexagrams; the second involves the use of yarrow stalks, which are readily available in China, and which grow straight enough to be useful. "The yarrow stalk method is time-consuming and complex to learn, but has the distinct advantage of enforcing a silent purposefulness that enhances one's relationship with The Book of Changes."

The plant's botanical name, Achillea, refers to the legend that Achilles first used the healing power of this herb in treating soldiers wounded at the battle of Troy.

Yarrow is reputed to have the ability to conjure up the devil. On the other paw, it was also used in love charms.

According to Culpeper, this plant is under the governance of Venus.


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Last Updated: March 7, 1999.