Yarrow (Achillea milefolium)
Oh, yarrow. This one is one of my favorites. No, it is my favorite. I get so very excited every year when I see all the whites (the different early summer white flowers), because I know yarrow’s in there somewhere and it’s time for my first wildcraft harvest!!! It’s also my favorite because I use it. A lot. This is one of those crazy plants with double sided uses. Yarrow is known to stop bleeding. The fresh leaves are a wonderful field dress for wounds and a quick remedy for nose bleeds. A strong tincture will help with blood blisters and varicose veins do to the toning action is has on the small blood vessels. Women with excessively heavy menstrual cycles will appreciate a yarrow tea.
On the other hand, if you don’t have a nose bleed, the fresh leaves will cause one. Yarrow will work in situations where you need to get the blood moving, such as blood clots within the system and stagnant menstrual cycles.
My favorite remedy though, is fever treatment. We like to let our fevers run a bit, but sometimes they move fast. Putting a quart of strong yarrow tea in the bath not only allows the water to be closer to normal body temp than tepid, but works right now to bring the fever down. My husband, myself and all my kids have needed yarrow baths at one time or another!! This will work even better if you drink the tea also, and I have had fevers get close to needing a bath but never get all the was there just for regimenting the tea. I would mix this with mint, hyssop and elderflower for myself to drink, elderflower and lemon balm for my kids.
This is one of those that I can tell you I’m being vague, at best. There are whole books written on this one. Anything that can work on your blood will be good for your whole body! There are also cautions as with all strong medicine. Excessive amounts on the skin, or using for a prolonged time, will make you likely to get sun burnt, and if you’re pregnant you need to avoid it, as it has been known to cause uterine contractions. Some people may develop skin irritation or rash. Don’t let it scare you off. I have boys with sensitive skin, and although I have never tried lotions or anything like that with it in there, adding it to a bath has never bothered them. I was worried it might especially in my youngest, but his fever was at 103 degrees and on a mission so I decided I could deal with a rash better than a brain injury. You know yourself and your family, use your judgment, and research thoroughly against current health conditions/medications anything you are going to ingest.
I will also give you a note about harvesting. This is one of those plants that will look like its flourishing wherever it is, but there is sometimes a big difference between here and there. I planted seed in my flower bed, and I harvest that along with wild plants from all across my property and some I find miles away if I happen on it. I store them dried all together. My reasoning is that if some are weak and some too strong they’ll even each other out. It has always worked when I’ve used it. I’ve heard of people trusting their little patch solely and when a fever kicks up they’re panicking because it’s just not doing anything!
When you harvest take a good pair of scissors and cut right at the top of a leaf joint. The plant will sprout out more flower heads (kind of like Meddussa…only not so instant) and you’ll have more to harvest later in the
summer. I never do a late summer harvest, though. It’s a perennial, so I figure it’s a lot like me. It’s struggling already to battle heat and store for winter. Also, as with any wildcrafting (wild harvesting), when you look back at where you’ve been there should still be proportionally strong stand. If there is one flowering stalk and a big clump of leaves, you get only leaves. If there aren’t any flower heads that have fully opened, you don’t get any. I tend to go for older stands with at least 5-10 flower heads, and cut only the ones that are fully open, leaving more than I take. My husband waits for me to get my yarrow before he bushhogs, so in my case this is the only chance the get to flower. My number one tip for harvest, again, is not to put all your eggs in basket. Harvest from several locations (even if that’s here and a hundred foot over there). For some reason I like to wild craft and generally feel it’s stronger than what I grow. There’s probably no truth to that more than the difference in any two stands. Happy Harvest!!!