Plant for blood-stopping medicine, for holding soil in pastures, for second sight, and for beautiful garden protection!
Hardy from Zones 3-9. Up to 3 feet tall.
Yarrow rises in Spring with sturdy stems, topped with feathery leaves and clusters of white and pink flowers. Those gorgeous flowers are common features of butterfly gardens. Yarrow is a Sunflower family member native to Asia, Europe, and North America, growing through rhizomes in grasslands, forests, and disturbed areas like roadsides. Clearly, it’s a versatile plant! Yarrow is a common herb of wet and dry land: it likes full sun and well-drained soil, but it’s also very effective at preventing erosion in drought conditions. It was once widespread in leys (rotations of grass on arable land) and pastures because of its deep roots and mineral-rich leaves, which we regularly add to compost tea. We like having Yarrow mixed into perennial plantings because the nectar of the white-pink flowers attracts predatory wasps who then prey on garden pests!
The Latin name comes from the Greek hero Achilles, who carried the herb into battle to treat wounds, which also earned it the name herbal militaris. When we get cut working in the gardens, we crush Yarrow leaves and hold them over the wound as an antiseptic bandage! Yarrow has lots of other amazing names: blood wort, bad man’s plaything, old man’s mustard (and pepper), seven year’s love, woundwort, death flower, and plumajillo (little feather) in the Southwest. The Navajo have used Yarrow to treat tooth and earaches by chewing on leaves. Cherokee medicine calls for its tea to treat fever and induce restful sleep, while Ojibwe use has include sprinkling a decoction (boiled concentration) onto hot stones and breathing in the steam to relieve headaches. You could also try the medieval European herbal mixture called gruit, which included Yarrow to flavor beer! The stalks served a role in I Ching divination, a ritual practice for interpreting signs. Old folklore on the Scottish Hebrides encouraged holding a leaf over the eyes to gain second sight, the power to perceive beyond the senses. Hard to get bored when hanging out with Yarrow!
We propagate our Yarrow from divisions in our streamside plantings.