This is an herbaceous plant that grows up to 3 feet in height. Leaves are long, bipinnate or tripinnate, almost feathery, and arranged in a spiral on the stems. Clusters of 15 to 40 tiny disk flowers are surrounded by three to eight white ray flowers, which in turn, are arranged in a flat-topped inflorescence (cluster of flowers arranged on a stem). This is a complex flower!
At higher elevations the white ray flower are pink to lilac. Hybrid flowers are yellow, orange, and red.
Botanical Name: Achillea millefolium
Common/Folk Names: Bloodwort (not to be confused with Sanguinaria, also known as bloodwort), Carpenter’s Weed, Devil’s Nettle, Field Hop, Gordaldo, Herbal Militaris, Knight’s Milfoil, Milfoil, Nosebleed Plant, Old Man’s Pepper, Plumajillo (Spanish for ‘little feather’), Sanguinary, Soldier’s Woundwort, Staunchweed, Thousand-leaf, Thousand-seal, Yarrow, Yarroway, and Yerw.
Life Cycle: perennial
Habitat: everywhere, weed like growth in grasses, meadows, pastures, and by the roadside; native to Eurasia, and found widely from the UK to China. In North America, both native and introduced genotypes, and both diploid and polyploid plants are found
Blooms: June to September
Smell: mild, sweet, similar to that of rosemary and oregano; leaves have a peppery scent
- Yarrow’s essential oil contains chemicals called proazulenes that make it a dark blue. This essential oil kills the larvae of the Aedes albopictus mosquito (aka the tiger or forest mosquito).
- Yarrow in the garden repels some pest insects while attracting good ones.
- It’s used to combat soil erosion due to its drought resistance.
- People who are allergic to ragweed are often allergic to yarrow.
- Yarrow pollen was found in a 60,000-year-old Neanderthal grave in Shanidar Cave, Iraq.
- Druids used it to predict the weather. Though I couldn’t find out how, I did find folklore that states when yarrow blooms abundantly, winter will be good.
- Yarrow ointment has been used to stop bleeding, as a diaphoretic, astringent, tonic, stimulant, and mild aromatic.
- Yarrow tea is used to alleviate colds and fevers.
- It has been used to stop a nose bleed as well as to start a nose bleeds (to alleviate headaches).
- Yarrow has been used as snuff.
- In the 17th century, it was added to salads and soups.
- The flowers have been used instead of hops to brew beer. Linnaeus believed beer made this way was more intoxicating.
- In Greek mythology, yarrow grew from the rust that Achilles scraped from his spear. It was used to stanch bleeding wounds of his soldiers.
- In China, it was believed that yarrow brightened the eyes and promoted intelligence.
- The Chinese use it for divination called I-Ching.
- The Saxons wore yarrow amulets to protect against blindness, robbers, and dogs.
- During the middle ages, yarrow was believed to assist in both summoning the devil and driving him away.
- Hanging a posy of yarrow over the bed on the wedding night or adding yarrow to the bridal bouquet will ensure lasting love (or at least for seven years).
- Hanging yarrow over a cradle will keep a baby safe from witches.
- Yarrow strewn across a threshold will keep out evil.
- Carry some in your pocket will lessen fears and bolster courage.
- Yarrow tea or incense will increase psychic powers.
- The incense will also invite love and peace as well as cleanse you aura.
- The tea will also relieve melancholy.
- Rubbing yarrow on your eyelids will enhance psychic abilities.
- Scattering yarrow around your property or wearing it in amulet will provide protection.
- Placing some under your pillow will bring dreams of your future husband.
- Used in magic spells for divination, to breaks curses, increase psychic power, and stimulates courage.
In the Language of Flowers, it means: everlasting love | war | good health
This is a reference for fiction writers and should not be taken as medical or spiritual advice.
A Kitchen Witch’s World of Magical Herbs & Plants By Rachel Patterson
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham
Folklore and Symbolism of Flower, Plants and Trees by Ernst and Johanna Lehner
Essential Herbal Wisdom: A Complete Exploration of 50 Remarkable Herbs By Nancy Arrowsmith
images: yarrow by AnRo0002, leaves by Krzysztof Golik, red yarrow by Timmeh 87, all from Wikipedia.org
series logo image by openclipart.org, awesome colorization by me!