- Achillea millefolium L.
- Composite family
mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris)
Parts Usually Used
Whole plant in flower, dried in the shade. (usually leaves and flowers)
Description of Plant(s) and Culture
is a hardy, weedy perennial, grows 8-18 inches (20-45 cm), sometimes
to 24 inches (60 cm), tall. If cultivated
and fertilized, can grow to 5 feet. It is identifiable
in part by the finely divided leaves (millefolium = of a thousand
leaves) and the erect flowering stalk with the white or reddish composite
flowers that are arranged in panicled false umbels, and in part by
its aromatic scent, which is released when the leaves and flowers
are crushed. Borne in large, flat, dense clusters 6 inches
in diameter, the flowers are on top of the erect stems. Each flower
head resembles a single flower but has five ray florets and a central
disk. Flowers in summer to early fall. Seeds have small wings.
It has soft, greyish, feathery, ethereal-looking leaves. The flowers
are usually white but hybrids of today come in lavenders, reds, lemon-yellow
and pinks. Varieties: A tomentosa, A. filipendulina, A decolorans.
The white blooming A. millefolium is the most cultivated
for medicinal use.
Raising yarrow from seed is possible, but quite involved. Collect
a few plants from the roadside, etc., and set them 6-8 inches
(15-20 cm) apart in normal garden soil in a sunny location.
Everything else will take care of itself, as long as the area has
no standing water. Zones 3-10. Not heat tolerant.
Other varieties: Achillea lanulosa; Shoshone name "Pannonzia", the
whole plant was boiled and applied as a poultice for felon. Tea from
the root for gas pains (at Owyhee, Nevada).
Native to Europe, now commonly found growing wild in North America
(except far north). Yarrow is a familiar plant in meadows and fields,
along the sides of country lanes, roadsides, on embankments, and in
landfills and garbage dumps.
Astringent, antispasmodic, tonic, promotes sweating, styptic, hemostatic,
alterative, diuretic, vulnerary, diaphoretic, carminitive, and stomachic
Yarrow yields a volatile oil containing azulene, also gum, tannin,
resin, chlorides of calcium and potassium, and various salts such
as nitrates, malates, and phosphorus, cineol and proaculene, achilleine
(which is the bitter component of the herb), and vitamin C.
Over a 100 biologically active compounds have been identified from
Legends, Myths and Stories
Yarrow has been used medicinally for centuries. Its ancient pedigree
is clear from its generic name, Achillea: the Greek hero Achilles
was taught by the centaur Chiron to use yarrow to heal wounded soldiers
at Troy during the Trojan War. The noble and valiant Achilles, whose
acts were described by Homer, is said to have used yarrow to cure
the wounds and sores of Telephus, the son of Hercules. Today yarrow
is grown for its lovely, flat-headed flower clusters and interesting
This herb has a long history of association with the occult and mystical.
The stalks are used for divining the Chinese I Ching.
Yarrow was one of the witch herbs, and it was believed that carrying
it at weddings guaranteed seven years of married bliss. (Then the
seven-year itch probably set in?)
Used since antiquity for headaches,
fevers (drink hot yarrow tea),
colds, and influenza.
Helps curb diarrhea, dysentery,
anemia, gas, diabetes,
Bright's disease, palpitations and excessive
menstruation. Treatment for gastrointestinal and gallbladder
complaints, gonorrhea, toothache
(chew the leaves), lack of
appetite, and catarrhs of the digestive system, hyperacidity,
bleeding from the lungs, anorexia,
enteritis, stomach ulcers, hemoptysis,
gastritis, high blood
pressure, styptic, and sleep
disturbances, produces a feeling of peace and relaxation for women
in the menopause, and is
a tonic. Yarrow, either
as a tea or as a bath additive, has proved helpful in allaying rheumatic
pain and control of high blood pressure. Used for smallpox, typhoid
fever, measles, malaria
(Yarrow is more effective than quinine), and chickenpox
to relieve itching.
In antiquity, and during the Middle Ages, yarrow was used primarily
to treat old wounds.
As a wash, it can be used to stop bleeding from piles,
nosebleeds, and cuts , and
to soothe sores and bruises.
Used as an insect repellent for Japanese beetles, ants and flies.
Plant as a border to the garden.
Formulas or Dosages
For medicinal purposes, all the flowering parts above ground are
used, everything except the lower, lignified parts of the plant. Cut
it up to dry in the open air, then cut it into small pieces and store
it in containers that can be tightly closed, protected from light
One or two cups of tea made from the leaves or blossoms is reputed
to stop nausea within minutes.
Tea: steep 1 heaping tsp. in 1 cup boiling water
for 30 minutes. Drink 3 or 4 cups
per day an hour before meals and upon retiring. It must be warm to
Take one wineglassful night and morning of a standard infusion from
the leaves and occasional flowers.
Yarrow interferes with the absorption of iron and other minerals.
Small numbers of cases of allergic reactions have been reported upon
contact with the plant; their skin turned red and an itchy rash developed.
Such people also cannot tolerate yarrow tea or yarrow baths. Discontinue
the treatment at once if problems of this kind appear. Then the allergic
reaction will disappear quickly. Avoid large doses in pregnancy because
the herb is a uterine stimulant.
Large or frequent doses taken over a long period may be potentially
harmful. Contains thujone, considered toxic. Consult with the doctor.