Yarrow – characteristics, cultivation and use

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Yarrow is undoubtedly one of the best known wild herbs. The pleasantly fragrant plant, with the white and rare rose flowers is an important medicinal plant in natural medicine. There it is used for stomach problems and indigestion. As the plant is quite undemanding, it can be found wild almost everywhere.

Profile of yarrow:

Scientific name: Achillea millefolium

Plant family: asters family (Asteraceae), composite

Other names: common yarrow

Sowing time / Planting time: March – April

Flowering period: May – August

Harvest time: May – September

Location: sunny

Soil quality: nutrient-rich, rather dry and well-drained

These information are for temperate climate!

Use as a medicinal herb: wound healing, stomach and intestinal diseases, rheumatism, menopause, high blood pressure

Use as aromatic herb: wild herb salad

Plant characteristics and classification of yarrow

Origin and occurrence of the yarrow

The common yarrow is today widespread worldwide, so that a more precise regional assignment in terms of origin is hardly possible. It is native to many countries in Europe, North Asia, but also in the USA and Canada. Since the plant has great importance as a medicinal herb, it is cultivated professionally in many countries. Records show that yarrow remains were also found in the famous flower tomb of Shanidar. The tomb is located in today’s Iraq and is about 49,000 years old.

Yarrow are so-called cosmopolites, meaning that the plants are spread over much of the earth. It is often found on meadows, pastures, field edges, forest edges or ruderal- or brownfields. In the Alps it is found up to the subalpine level.

Plant order of yarrow

The common yarrow (Achillea millefolium) belongs to the daisy family (Asteraceae) and is related to typical wild herbs such as dandelion, arnica or wormwood. The genus of yarrow (Achillea) is very rich in species. It is believed that up to 200 species exist within. Other known species of the genus are the silvery yarrow (Achillea clavennae) native to the Limestone Alps, or the noble yarrow (Achillea nobilis) found in central and southern Europe.

The common yarrow described here can once again be divided into two subspecies. The common yarrow (Achillea millefolium sp. Millefolium) is the species we often find on wild meadows or fallow land. In contrast, the Sudetes yarrow (Achillea millefolium ssp. Sudetica) is usually found only in the alpine regions.

Incidentally, the botanical genus name Achillea goes back to the legend that Achilles, who was wounded during the war, used to heal healthy soldiers with yarrow.

Look and characteristics of yarrow


The common yarrow is a perennial plant that grows between 60 and 140 cm (24 and 64 in). Equally striking is the pronounced and creeping root system, which can also reach lengths of up to one meter (40 in).


The fine and delicate leaves are alternate and pinnate, as the stems of the wild herb are quite stable and equipped with fine glandular hairs. The plant can still be recognized in spring as leaf rosette. The basal leaves are elongated in this phase.


The flowers of the common yarrow (A. millefolium sp. Millefolium) are white and differ from the more violet flowers of the Sudetes yarrow (A. millefolium ssp. Sudetica). The flowers are arranged in umbel-like structures, so that they can be sometimes held for Umbelliferae. The cyme consist of numerous flower heads, which bloom between late May and mid-October. Distinctive is the pleasantly sweet smell.


After pollination of the flowers form slightly yellowish to grayish fruits, which are winged. The fruit is referred to here as achene. Each fruit contains brownish and elongated seeds.

Yarrow – cultivation and care


Yarrow is a perennial plant that has low demands on the location. Optimal site conditions, however, are full sunshine with more permeable, dry but nutrient-rich soils. Waterlogging or very humid soils are to be avoided during cultivation. The herb also tolerates soils that are slightly limed. However, additional fertilization is not required in most cases.


The seeds should be sown in the spring between April and June. Since the yarrow is a light germ, the seeds should only be lightly pressed in the ground. When sowing, it should be noted that the plants can reach very high growth heights. It is recommended to keep a planting distance of about 25 to 30 cm (10 to 12 in) between the individual specimens. It can also be brought forward at home between February and March, and then prick out in the garden. Cultivation on the balcony or terrace is possible. The plant should then be kept in larger pots as it can form quite long roots.


Inasmuch as yarrow is to be cultivated in your own garden or in the field, it is recommended to use your own pots to control the growth. Ignored, the plant tends to overgrow. The plant is well tolerated for cultivation with sage or catnip.

Sowing hints for yarrow summarized

Sowing time: April – June

Sowing depth: max. 0.5 cm (light germinator)

Planting distance: at least 25 cm

Cultivation methods: outdoor or pot culture

Substrate: Sowing soil or direct field

Germination time: 7 to 14 days


If yarrow grows in a nutrient-rich soil, in the first year usually no additional fertilizers are necessary. For leached soils, adding some compost or alternatively bovine dung is recommended. If it grows in the pot or bucket, it must be fertilized a little more often. Classic organic-mineral herbicides or fertilizer pellets are perfectly adequate. Strong liquid fertilizers should be diluted with water to avoid oversupply of nutrients.


In principle, the plant is a very robust plant that can withstand dry and hot phases well. The plants do not necessarily have to be watered every day, but it is advisable that the soil never completely dry out.

Yarrow propagation occurs via seeds, but also via subterranean roots.


In spring, the small and delicate leaves of yarrow can be harvested for the preparation of salads. At the time of full flowering, all the herbaceous parts as well as the flowers can be harvested for the use in teas, tinctures or baths. The harvested parts should then be dried quickly in order to minimize the loss of valuable ingredients.


The plant shows a very high frost and cold tolerance and can withstand temperatures of up to -30 ° C / -22 ° F. It does not have to be rearranged in winter and can be left in place. The aboveground plant parts shoot out in the following year.

Yarrow and its use

Yarrow is one of the wild herbs that are often associated with weeds. At most, it is valued for its decorative flowers in wildflowers bouquets. Even in the recent past, yarrow has attracted much attention as a medical plant.

Yarrow in the kitchen

Yarrow as an edible herb is not very popular, but the leaves of the plant are basically edible. The delicate leaf shoots can be eaten until flowering. Here they are sometimes used for herbal quarks or wild herb salads. The taste is slightly bitter, aromatic and sometimes reminds of chamomile. With increasing size, however, the leaves become more bitter and are hardly suitable for consumption.

Far more often, syrup is made from the flowers. In addition to 200 g (7 oz) flowers, one pound of sugar and three quarters of a liter (26 fl oz) of water are needed. All ingredients are boiled, strained and filled in clean, sealable bottles.

Yarrow as a medicinal herb

Women’s herb, cure-all herb and bellyache herb are only a few of the names, under which the common yarrow is administrated and which let guess, which use the herb had for humans and still has today.

Yarrow has been a medicinal herb since ancient times. Written records and archaeological finds suggest that the plant played a major role in Ancient Greece. At that time, it was mainly the hemostatic properties of the herb, which were used in injuries of soldiers in the field.

Even in the herbal books of the Middle Ages and early modern times, yarrow was indispensable. As a herbal medicine. Hildegard von Bingen recommended it for the supportive treatment of ulcers and wounds. Also in other herbal books the plant was described as a herb, which is in daily use. In addition, one used the medicinal plant in the relief of women’s complaints and bloody sputum. Also in the treatment of dysentery, the plant played a role, although the treatment success is questionable.

In today’s natural healing yarrow is often and successfully used. The ingredients, which consist mainly of essential oils, bitter substances and tannins, make the plant an interesting herb.

Shepherd can be used for these ailments and diseases

  • after itching
  • acne
  • angina pectoris (supportive)
  • biliary colic
  • bleeding
  • bloating
  • chapped hands
  • Charcot’s syndrome
  • circulatory disorders
  • cold
  • constipation
  • diabetes
  • diarrhea
  • eczema
  • erysipelas
  • estrogen dominance
  • eye circles
  • gastritis
  • gout
  • headache
  • heart failure
  • hemorrhoids
  • high blood pressure
  • indigestion
  • kidney weakness
  • leukorrhea
  • loss of appetite
  • menopausal symptoms
  • menstrual cramps
  • neuralgia
  • poor circulation
  • psoriasis
  • rheumatism
  • shingles
  • sore nipples while breastfeeding
  • sunburn
  • ulcers
  • varicose veins
  • wound healing

Medicinal properties:

  • analgesic
  • antispasmodic
  • blood purifier
  • hemostatic

Of the yarrow, most of the above-ground parts of plants are used. The herb is given as tea, as a tincture, as an envelope or as a bath additive.

Preparation of a yarrow bath

For a herbal bath about 100 grams (3,5 oz) of dried yarrow herb are poured with 1 liter (35 fl oz) of hot water and given to the bath water after about 25 minutes. The bath should not take more than 10 minutes. Such baths can help with chronic pelvic disease in women.

Preparation of yarrow tea

  • put two teaspoons of yarrow herb ina tea strainer ina cup
  • dash with boiling water
  • leave to draw for 10 minutes

This tea supports digestion, It is recommended not to take more than three cups of tea per day. If the tea only consists of flowers, then two cups per day are enough.

Use of yarrow essential oil

Inasmuch as the essential oils of the plant are to be used, it is recommended that only the flowers be used. The essential oil is very expensive, but a valuable rarity.

Diluted one can use it for massages, compresses, sitz baths, foot baths and in the aroma lamp.

Put the diluted oil on the forehead and neck, it helps, for example, against headaches, but also against many of the other purposes listed above.

Externally use of yarrow

Externally you can use yarrow as baths, for washes or compresses.

In full baths, yarrow tea is suitable for example against neuralgia. Also against ulcers, poorly healing wounds and psoriasis, the external application is suitable.

Use of yarrow for cancer

In recent natural medicine studies also cancer-inhibiting effects are being investigated. The containing flavonoids and sesquiterpene lactones may cause certain cancer cells to fail to grow and die off. These effects get attention in the treatment of leukemia, cervical cancer and skin cancer. In laboratory test extracts from the root were convincing.

Use of yarrow for women

Yarrow is also popular in gynecology and provides relief from menstrual and menopausal symptoms. As a bath additive, yarrow has been proven in hemorrhoids.

Side effects

Pregnant women should refrain from using yarrow as well as people suffering from allergies who respond to daisy family. If yarrow products are to be used for a longer period of time, it is recommended that in case of sensitive persons, the dosage and the duration should be discussed with a doctor or pharmacist.


Of course, in the case of severe illnesses such as angina pectoris or bleeding, yarrow may only be used supportively. The other treatment is left to the doctor.

People with sensitive skin or allergies may get yew dermatitis from the yarrow. In this case you should avoid skin contact with the yarrow.


Ask your doctor or pharmacist. Visiting this page can not replace the visit to the doctor. For serious or unclear complaints, consult your doctor.

Buy Yarrow – What is there to pay attention to?

Yarrow and yarrow products are quite common in commerce. Finished plants are very rare to find as small plants in garden centers or specialized plants. Best way to pruchase yarrow is online. You should pay attention to the botanical name Achillea millefolium ssp. millefolium. Take a closer look at the leaves as well, and check to see if you recognize small black or white spots that could turn out to be parasites.

In most areas, however, wild plants can be picked.

Dried yarrow herbs are quite common in selected herbal shops, pharmacies or online shops. Since the herbs are usually used as a natural remedy for a variety of ailments, you should ensure that the products also have appropriate quality characteristics. For a good quality always argues that the manufacturer can name the harvest time, the product is stored in aroma-sealed packaging and also notes about cultivation site. Some manufacturers already offer ready packed tea in teabags.

Yarrow seeds are available from some selected seed producers. Here, too, should always watch out for the botanical name. Occasionally there are some cultivated forms that differ in the flower color of the wild form.

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