The Gardener's Kitchen: Yarrow

Yarrow in Naturalized setting

courtesy flickr/KitAy
courtesy flickr/KitAy



Yarrow or Achillea millefolium is a common plant found around the world in waste spaces, pastures, meadows, fields and lawns.

Yarrow has been with us for many centuries and was used by the Greeks to control hemorrhages.

This use of yarrow to control bleeding, traces back to the legend of Achilles. It was during the battle of Troy when Achilles healed many of his warriors with yarrow leaves and this is how the name Achillea came into being.

Some of the common names yarrow is known by also reflect this property; woundwort, nosebleed, soldier’s woundwort are examples.

The Druids used yarrow stems to divine the weather and in the I Ching it says that 52 straight stalks of yarrow, of even length, were cast to foretell the future. Today three coins are used.

Yarrow also is said to have magical properties and the Anglo-Saxons claimed that it possessed power over evil, while in France and Ireland it is one of the Herbs of Saint John.

Yarrow also has a place in folklore in both the United States and Britain with a saying that if a young girl tickles her nostrils with sprays of yarrow and her nose starts to bleed, this establishes her lover’s fidelity.

Yarrow grows prolifically and can soon take over a garden or lawn. If you wish to add this plant to your garden it may be best to select a cultivar to grow in containers where you can control its spread.

The young yarrow leaves may be used as a salad green to add a distinctive flavour to a tossed green salad or served with other wild greens such as plantain and dandelion leaves. A sprinkle of young yarrow leaves may dress up a potato salad.

Yarrow enjoys full sun and is ideal for that hot, dry, sunny spot where few other plants will thrive. Yarrow appreciates well drained soils.

This plant can handle neglect and the odd drying out; it will flop over if the neglect extends too long.

Yarrow is a good plant for the naturalized garden along with tulips and daffodils for example, be sure the area is large enough and if you are planning a naturalized garden in an urban setting please check your local bylaws before establishing it. A well drawn garden plan will help convince city officials that you are designing a naturalized garden and not simply trying to get out of cutting the area. Talk with your neighbours as well.

I have some yarrow growing in the backyard between the visible tree roots of the 100 year old maple that dominates the spot. It only reaches about one foot in height and looks good there but I do pull a few plants to keep the spread in check.

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Comments 10 comments

C.S.Alexis profile image

C.S.Alexis 7 years ago from NW Indiana

The folklore you added really made this an enjoyable hub. Thumbs up Bob!

Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Thanks and glad you stopped by.

MamaDragonfly2677 profile image

MamaDragonfly2677 7 years ago from New York

Very interesting facts! I am assuming Yarrow can grow anywhere? Or is there a specific zone it should be grown in?

Great hub Bob!

Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Zone 3a to 9a, should be fine. Thanks for dropping in.

Debra Myers 7 years ago

Have never specifically grown yarrow and thus have little knowledge of the plant till now!

Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Glad to be of assistance, thanks for dropping in.

Nicki Goff 7 years ago

Interesting hub, Bob. I grow yarrow as an ornamental, and have lots of the wild ones growing also, but never knew you could use it in salads! Thanks.

Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick Author

Thanks for dropping by.

ajcor profile image

ajcor 7 years ago from NSW. Australia

I always wondered what that yellow plant in my garden was - so thanks for the enlightenment Bob...cheers

Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 7 years ago from New Brunswick Author

You are welcome, and thanks for droping by.

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