The Yarrow Flower

Yarrow Flower

Yarrow the Wonder Plant

Known for its extensive uses, the yarrow plant is arguably one of the most versatile botanicals on the planet.

Aside from its many medicinal qualities, yarrow helps combat soil erosion, serves as food for birds and grazing animals while attracting beneficial insects it also wards off garden pests.

So while certainly a multitalented plant that benefits humans, the earth as well as its neighboring flora and fauna, the multi-purpose yarrow is undoubtedly one of the most important.

 Scientific Name

Achillea Millefolium

The origin of yarrow's etymological first name stems primarily from Greek Mythology. The yarrow herb plant was said to have grown from the rust of Achilles spear, which he used to stem the bleeding of soldiers wounded on the field of battle.

Millefolium means “thousand- leaved” in reference to its small yet profuse and compact foliage. Reflective of its diverse history and versatility, other names given to Yarrow include knight’s milfoil, old man’s pepper, devil’s nettle and angel flower.

 Geographic Origin

Indigenous to the European and Asian continents, yarrow was brought to the new world by colonists and spread across the country through settlement of the West.

In Spanish-speaking New Mexico and southern Colorado, yarrow is called plumajillo, which means, "little feather".

Now, yarrow can be found in dry pine woods, grassy meadows, cultivated in gardens and growing wild along rural roadsides throughout the United States. Because of its stamina, the yarrow plant can survive most planting zones.

 Description and Characteristics

Yarrow is a hardy, herbaceous perennial with tiny, fern-like leaves spiraling up multiple stems topped by flattened flower clusters. While the “common” Yarrow flower is white, hybrids offer color choices ranging from sulfur yellow to burgundy.

Through rhizome growth, the yarrow plant can be invasive and can reach 2" to 3’ tall. An enthusiastic self-propagator requiring little care to survive, some consider the yarrow plant a weed. Its aromatic, feather-like leaves sprout a varying amount of tiny hairs and give off a distinct aroma when crushed.


The history of yarrow is long and rich. The ancient Chinese threw yarrow stalks instead of coins to promote divination in consultation of the “Book of Changes” known also as the, I Chi.

During the Middle Ages, Europeans connected yarrow with both a goddess and a demon as witches used the smoke of the burning yarrow plant for incantations to summon anything between angels and visions of snakes. Navajo Indians called yarrow the "life medicine", chewing it for toothaches and pouring its tea into ears for earaches.

The Chippewa inhaled it in a steam to relieve headaches and the Cherokee drank yarrow tea to reduce fever and bring them restful sleep.

Dried yarrow flower was discovered in a Neanderthal burial site in northern Iraq dating back to 60,000BC.

Cultivation and Care

Plant in sunny area.Cultivate in the spring.Do not over work soil near established plant during dormant phases.

New, thicker growth from rhizomes and fallen seeds will sprout as temperatures warm. Do not plant seeds more that 1/4". Use as a thick border or to fill in dry areas. Prune regularly for short, thick growth.

Yarrow plants left to grow taller should be staked to avoid beat down by heavy rain or high winds. Trim back after flowering to encourage more blooms. Divide bi-annually to prevent overcrowding.

Planting in loose, well drained soil will help prevent mold and root rot. Leaf bugs and flea beetles are rare but possible.


The Amazing Versatility of the Yarrow Plant

Environmental Benefits

Medicinal Uses

Yarrow as Food

Note: Moderation is the key. Too much Yarrow can define the adage, “too much of a good thing”. As it is often said, the distinction between medicine or food and poison is a matter of quantity or dose.

Therefore, yarrow herb for internal or topical remedy should only be used sparingly. Women should avoid using yarrow during pregnancy.

Other Uses for Yarrow Include:


Click thumbnails to see pictures:

Yarrow Flower Yarrow Flower Yarrow Flowers