Yarrow grows best in zones 3-9. The plant should be spaced 2-3 feet apart, as it grows an average of 2 feet high and 2 feet wide. Yarrow is in bloom from June to August and the seeds ripen from July to September. After the first flowering, cut the stems in order to encourage more blooms. It grows best in full sunlight but can grow in partial shade. Yarrow is best suited to sandy soil that is well-drained, with a pH between 5.5 and 6.8. Yarrow grows best in nutritionally poor soils. The plant should be planted in location that protects it from the wind because it can be damaging to the stem. Additionally, yarrow plants should be separated every 2 years (1). The plant grows aggressively so it will need to be cut to control the spread (3). Yarrow is suitable for xeriscaping because it is tolerant to droughts. This helps to cut down on the usage of water and irrigation. The plant can repel beetles, ants, and flies, while attracting butterflies (3). Yarrow is a good addition to compost because it speeds up the rotting process. It is can also be used as a solution for fertilizers (5).
Culinary and Medicinal Uses
Yarrow is used in folk medicine to treat toothaches, earaches, and illnesses relating the lungs. In modern times, it is used in pills that treat gastrointestinal problems. In the past, it has been used in North America and Europe to treat wounds, diarrhea, dysentery and hypertension (3). Cherokee would drink yarrow tea to treat fevers. The Chippewa tribe would use the leaves to treat headaches. It was used as a pain reliever by the Pawnee tribe (1). Yarrow tea is used in Mexico as an insect repellant or to treat fevers. Yarrow leaves promote clotting and are applied to wounds to stop bleeding. It can also decrease menstrual flow if ingested (4). Yarrow used to be referred to as 'nosebleed' because it could stop nosebleeds if placed in the nostrils (5).
Significance to Cultural Communities
Yarrow is native to northern Asia and Europe. 'Achillea' in 'Achillea Millefolium' stands for Achilles, the Greek warrior, who apparently used Yarrow to stop the flow of blood from the wounds of soldiers. It is also rumored that 'Achillea' stands for a Greek doctor named Achilles who wrote down the plant's medicinal uses. Ancient Chinese sages also picked random yarrow stalks in order to consult with the oracles of the I Ching. In Ireland, bridesmaids would carry it to weddings for seven years of love. Yarrow is a plant of St. John and the it is hung in houses on St. John's Eve (June 23rd) to ward away illness. Remnants of yarrow has also been found in fossils from old burial caves (3). In Sweden, it is known as 'field hop' because it has been used to create beer (6).
1. USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center. (n.d.). Common Yarrow. Retrieved October 10, 2013, from USDA website: http://plants.usda.gov/plantguide/pdf/cs_acmi2.pdf
2. Achillea Millefolium. (n.d.). Retrieved October 10, 2013, from Missouri Botanical Garden website: http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=b282
3. Small, E., & Catling, P. M. (1999). Achillea Millefollium. In Canadian Medicinal Crops (pp. 9-11). Retrieved from ProQuest database
4. Torres, Eliseo. Healing with Herbs and Rituals: a Mexican Tradition. Edited by Timothy L. Sawyer, Jr. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2006
5. Crow, Tis Mal. Native Plants Native Healing: Traditional Muskogee Way. Summertown: Native Voices Publishing, 2001
6. “Yarrow.” Urban Herbs: Medicinal Plants at Georgetown University. http://www9.georgetown.edu/gumc/departments/pharmacology/urbanherbs/yarrow.htm