Yarrow {Achillea millefolium} – Good Witches Homestead

Yarrow {Achillea millefolium}

Family: Asteraceae

It’s said that, as a baby, the great Greek warrior Achilles was dipped in yarrow by his mother, to give him his superhuman strength – but that she held him by his heel. That being the only area not covered, he was of course later slain by an arrow to his Achilles’ heel,” his only weak spot. And don’t forget the medieval teaching that yarrow grew in churchyards as a reproach to the dead who need not have died had they eaten their yarrow. In China, it is believed that even the stalks are powerful; they have been historically used to cast the I Ching.


Yarrow grows as a low, spreading a mat of finely dissected, aromatic leaves that reach about 1 foot high. Umbrella-shaped clusters of tiny white flowers appear above the foliage in summer on stalks up to 2 feet high. Achillea is native to the entire northern hemisphere {North America and northern Eurasia}. If you want to grow the most potent medicine, stick to the white-flowered species and don’t choose any of the other lovely flower colors that are available in nurseries.

Preparations and Dosage:

Make an infusion by steeping 1/4 cup of the dried flowers in 2 cups of water for 20 to 30 minutes. Drink 1 cup of the tea two or three times daily. This is a mild herb, and it can be taken regularly for 2 to 3 weeks.

A traditional combination of easing fevers and other symptoms of flu is one part yarrow leaf or flower, one part elder flower, and one part peppermint leaf. Infuse the herb combination for 30 minutes and drink it throughout the day as desired.

The leaf is well known for its ability to stop bleeding when applied directly to a wound, and you can carry it dried and powdered in your first aid kit.

Healing Properties:

Yarrow tea is slightly bitter and aromatic and is a famous European remedy used to ease the symptoms of colds, flu, painful digestion, “liver stagnation” {weak bile flow} accompanied by poor fat digestion, and a feeling of fullness after meals, especially fatty ones. Laboratory studies have definitively established that yarrow has anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic {relaxing the smooth muscles found in the uterus and digestive tract}, anti-fever, and antiviral effects. As an extra bonus, yarrow seems to have a calming effect, which can help with PMS and other nervous conditions, and it stops bleeding when applied to a wound.

It turns out that there is a fair amount of variation in the chemistry and biological actions in wild yarrow populations, so we recommend growing your own from seed or from plants obtained from one of our recommended sources rather than purchasing plants from nurseries or gathering them from wild populations.


Avoid yarrow during pregnancy and while nursing unless you are under the guidance of an experienced herbal practitioner. Allergic reactions to members of the Asteraceae family, though rare, are known in sensitive individuals. They can manifest as a skin rash {even from just handling the herb, which is more likely with the fresh plant}, digestive upset, or headaches.

In the Garden:

Yarrow is found from sea level to above the timberline in the wild, so you know it is highly adaptable. It thrives in full sun but can tolerate partial shade, loves water but can endure mild drought, is winter hardy, and spreads quickly in cultivated {or disturbed} soil. It does like poor, acidic conditions, so do not fertilize it. Let it dry out between waterings.

You can grow yarrow from seed if you sow in the fall or stratify the seed before planting. {It’s often sown directly.} But root division is another good method and can help control the plant since it has a tendency to spread.

Harvesting Yarrow:

Snip off the flower clusters when it’s in full white bloom {no color varieties, please and thank you}, and then cut the stalk all the way to the ground to encourage further blooming. You can harvest the leaf at any time of year. For drying, you can also cut long flowering stalks and use the hanging method, snipping the flowers off later. Keep the whole flower clusters intact when you store them.

Additional Information on Yarrow:

Also, Known As:

  • Gandana
  • I-chi-kao
  • Milfoil
  • Millefoil
  • Noble Yarrow
  • Nosebleed
  • Old Man’s Pepper
  • Soldier’s Woundwort
  • Stanchgrass
  • Thousand-leaf
  • Thousand-seal
  • Yarrow

See the entire article at its Source: Yarrow {Achillea millefolium} – Good Witches Homestead

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