Posted by Phytopath on Mar 19, 2010
Achillea millefolium is an interesting plant to grow in the garden.
In areas with a reasonable rainfall, yarrow has the potential to spread, sometimes further than the gardener actually wants and it can become invasive. In my climate, with an average annual rainfall around 400mm (16”) per annum, it is a very well behaved plant.
I like to use it as an indicator plant. That is – when the yarrow wilts slightly or looks droopy, I know it is time to water the garden.
Apart from being a useful indicator plant (in my climate), I found that yarrow leaves were great for staunching bleeding.
Years ago, I suffered from constant nose bleeds and regardless of where I was, at home gardening, visiting friends or at work teaching, I had to deal with bleeding all over the furniture.
If the nose bleed happened at home, I would go to the yarrow patch and pick a few leaves, then shove them up my nose (children, please do not do this at home). What a site – a grown woman walking around the house and garden with green matter hanging out of her nose (my apologies if you have now developed a mental picture [grin]). The thing is – in my case the yarrow stopped the bleeding.
There are more than 85 species of Achillea occurring mostly in temperate climates of the Northern Hemisphere.
The plant was named after the Greek hero Achilles, who used it to heal his soldiers’ wounds during the Trojan War.
Currently, yarrow is known to reduce inflammation and promote perspiration. It is also used to relieve indigestion, relax spasms and apparently is effective in lowering blood pressure. Externally it has been used to treat wounds, nosebleeds (yay), haemorrhoids (ouch); ulcers and inflamed eyes (always seek medical advice).
When made into a tea, the taste is quite pleasing, unlike some herbs, and I have read (somewhere) that it is a good drink to take before going to bed. It apparently relaxes you – but if it is a diuretic, I’m not so sure about taking it before retiring for the night. I certainly don’t like getting out of a warm bed to empty my bladder in the middle of the night.
Achillea has also been used for divination. In China, yarrow sticks are used when consulting the I Ching.
It can also be used in salads and as a garnish%