This month’s full moon is known as the Blessing Moon and there are few herbs we are more blessed to have in our Apothecaries and gardens than Yarrow. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is the plant that first started me on my herbal journey. I’ve planted it in every garden I’ve grown over the past ten years and tend to use it like glitter - sprinkled widely everywhere and anywhere, ha! This picture is from my front Apothecary Garden where it is cozied up next to the Joe-Pye Weed and Lemon Balm. Yarrow is seeped in lore and history, provides powerful healing and medicine, is beloved by pollinators, grows freely without fuss, and is treasured by magicians and medicine-makers alike!
The Latin name, Achillea millefolium, is an homage to the Greek war hero Achilles. It is said that he carried Yarrow into battle using it to treat his soldiers’ wounds. I love how legend informs our use of the plant today as it is best known as a wound healer with antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and styptic properties. Yarrow is the very first plant I think of when there are cuts, scrapes, burns, bruises, or sprains. It helps stop bleeding, prevents infection, provides pain relief, and promotes cellular repair. First aid wonder herb! This wound-healing wonder doesn’t just stop at surface level. Yarrow is a powerful ally for internal infection as well - from respiratory to urinary. It is a diaphoretic meaning it helps support fever and has long been blended with Peppermint and Elderflower for that purpose.
Carefree in the garden, Yarrow only needs to be planted once as it will happily spread via seed and underground runners. There are several ornamental varieties which make lovely additions to the garden; but if you’re looking to use it medicinally stick to the white flowers sold without a variety name. Magically, Yarrow is strongly associated with courage and protection (again, think Achilles). It is believed to stop fear, exorcise evil, and remove negativity from a person or place. I found one reference stating that a person could use a wash of Yarrow to prevent baldness (but it won’t cure it if already begun, ha!)
As a emmenagogue that promotes uterine tone, Yarrow is not to be used by pregnant humans. It has a few look-alikes such as Queen Anne’s Lace and Poison Hemlock, especially when not in flower. As with all plants, practice common sense and caution when harvesting from the wild!
I invite you all to spend a little time with Yarrow this next month. I think you’ll become as smitten as I am. Green Blessings!
Blankenspoor, J. (2022). The healing garden. New York: Mariner Books.
Cunningham, S. (2019). Encyclopedia of magical herbs. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Publications.
Gladstar, R. (2012). Medicinal herbs: A beginner’s guide. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.