I stand at the butcher’s block chopping fresh vegetables, my white curtains fluttering from the warm breeze coming from the window that looks over the garden. I can hear someone mowing the lawn in the distance. My chopping knife slips and I nick my finger. It is not deep enough for an emergency room visit but it stings and is bleeding. I wrap my injured finger in a paper towel and head to the garden.
Here in the garden, my dear plant friend yarrow is waiting patiently to come to my aid. I pluck a feathery leaf from from her and wrap it around the wounded finger. Immediately the bleeding subsides and the sting is taken away.
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a native perennial wildflower, a member of the Aster family, grows abundantly in the prairie. Yarrow produces huge flat clusters of white flowers blooming at the end of tall stems. Their leaves are fern-like. They love the full sunlight and can grow up to 3 feet tall. With all things growing in a harsh environment that the Prairie can be, it is incredibly resilient, growing during drought and cold temperatures. In Prairie Star's Learning Garden, Yarrow has been known to bloom in March.
(Pictured above - Yarrow growing in Prairie Star's Learning Garden, with Purple Prairie Clover)
Traditionally yarrow has been used for healing wounds. My ancestors carried yarrow in their sporran when going into battle. Yarrow’s anti-septic and anti-bacterial qualities were ideal for battle wounds. It was also used by my ancestors spiritually for strength, courage, protection, and sometimes love.
From Carmine Gadelica, A book of Scottish Gaelic Charms, songs, 19th Century Author, Alexandra Carmicheal
I do feel the strength in the plant as I touch the feathery fern like leaves. A closer connection to my ancestors.
Yarrow is also a diaphoretic and traditionally been used for fevers. I use her as a wonderful Summer time ally while I am working in the garden and feel a touch over-heated. I pluck a leaf and chew on it for a bit, then place the pulp on the back of my neck, within minutes my pores open up and I am feeling this pleasant cool sensation spreading through my body.*
Yarrow one of my "must haves" in my home first aid kit. Prairie Star Botanicals has yarrow in the First Aid Salve.
*As with any plant, it is very important that you know for certain its identity. I encourage learning about Yarrow by growing her in your garden, or join an herb class. If you are local to Prairie Star, we offer a free herb walk the last Wednesday of each month April-September.