Yarrow ( Achillea millefolium )
'Among the harebells and the grass, the grass all feathery with seed, I dream, and see all the people pass:
They pay me little heed.
And yet the children (so I think) in spite of other flowers more dear, would miss my clusters white and pink, if I should disappear.'
Cicely Mary Barker 1925
Common Name: Yarrow Latin : Achillea millefolium Family: Asteraceae
History and/or use: Yarrow is full of nutrients and minerals and can help sleep, pain and bleeding
Wildlife Value: Invertebrate food plant.
This common plant seen in the verges and other grassy habitats is an effective herb for many wounds containing a natural antiseptic called cineol. It can also help to hasten the clotting time of blood which has given rise to its folk name ‘nosebleed’. The herb can be used fresh or dried and put direct onto a wound or made into an ointment.
Yarrow induces sweating, can help you sleep, eases pain and reduces bleeding. Yarrow is full of nutrients and minerals and when mixed with vervain I have found it to be ideal for fevers and nerve pain. It helps aid digestion and is a good general tonic for the system.
Its Latin name Achillea reminds us that Achilles used it to cure wounds inflicted by iron weapons as did the Anglo-Saxons warriors. In Ireland the plant is said to drive away evil and therefore sickness.
It is also considered a Woman’s herb increasing attractiveness and protecting them from men.
If you have any medical conditions please check with a medical herbalist first before taking any plant and only harvest it if you are 100% sure what it is!
'I will pick green yarrow that my figure may be fuller, that my voice may be sweeter, that my lips will be like the juice of the strawberry.... I shall wound every man, but no man shall wound me.'
The above Gaelic chant implies it is a herb under the protection of the Goddess.
The plant itself speaks of tenacity as it is able to lie low when the grass is cut building up its strength from a strong tap root and yet is capable of growing high when left to its own devices. Its many clusters of flowers and numerous leaves continue its tale of tenacity, a plant worth respecting and a beautiful addition to the grass sward.
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Poetry of flowers
Join me to explore the flora of the British Isles on this blog. My intention is to attempt to capture the unique quality and beauty of each species of flower, tree or shrub. For every species featured I will be growing many more wildflowers to celebrate the joy of their existence, their intrinsic conservation value and bewildering array of uses. For nearly 30 years I have noted, studied and explored wildflowers in the field much to the patience of the walker beside me. To share this passion is a heartfelt plea to respect, preserve and care for all British Wildflowers no matter how common they seem.