Yarrow is a perennial herb that originates from Europe and Asia, but has been naturalized to many other countries including North America. In Northwest Arkansas we often find it growing along roadsides and in open fields.
Yarrow is easy to spot as it stands up to thirty inches tall and has long fern like leaves that can grow to four inches. The head of a Yarrow plant is made up have hundreds of tiny clustered flowers that can grow to four inches in diameter. In NWA the flowers are generally white, although they may be yellow or even pink or purple.
Achillea millefolium is the scientific name for this herb of many purposes. It is said that Achilles the Greek warrior used this plant to treat not only himself but also his troops in battle. Yarrow is a bitter, an antipyretic, antimicrobial, hepatic and vulnerary herb. Meaning it is used to promote appetite, reduce fever, stop bleeding,help with inflammation, prevent viruses, and helps heal wounds and the liver. Thats a lot of things for one flower to do.
I could go on about the health benefits of yarrow for pages but I won’t (at least not in this article). Almost the whole plant can be boiled or ground up to make a salve or tincture for some ailment. Just be careful if you are allergic to it, Yarrow is also responsible for a lot of people’s seasonal allergies.
For all of those reasons it has a ton of other common names like bloodwort, carpenter’s weed, knight’s milfoil, noble yarrow, old man’s pepper, nosebleed and staunch grass.
Yarrow is good for more than just your health too. It doesn’t have to have a lot of water or very fertile soil to thrive, so it is great for helping with erosion. Other plants like it too because it attracts pollinators and raises the oil content in other plants which helps them stay more resistant to pests and disease. Plus the whole time it is doing all of that Achillea millefolium is also repairing your damaged soil.
Yarrow is a great herb with a million uses from salve to erosion control. This great roadside weed is worthy of Achilles’s name and I love to have it growing in my yard.