Yarrow is a common wildflower in the Aster family. It grows to be 1'-3' tall with 2-4" wide clusters of small, white flowers with yellowish centers. The leaves are easy to identify; small, narrow and fern-like feathery. They have a strong smell, are larger at the bottom and progressively smaller at the top. The flowers bloom in summer and fall, and can be found in dry, sunny areas- deciduous woods, fields and prairies. They are found throughout Michigan. Yarrow is native to North America.
Yarrow leaves and flowers can be gathered while in bloom, dried and stored for year-round use. It can also be made into a tincture and used in herbal oils and salves.
Many cultures have used yarrow as a medicinal herb. There is a legend that Achilles used the plant to heal bleeding wounds during the Trojan War. In modern times, herbalists still use yarrow to stop bleeding and help resolve colds & flu, endometriosis, heard desease, hives, menstrual problems, pinkeye and sties. More than 40 active ingredients have been isolated in yarrow. The plant possesses anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and sweat-inducing properties. It can reduce inflammation, relax cramps, and arrest excessive bleeding, dilate arteries and help lower cholesterol. It is considered a blood vessel tonic, improving arterial health in general. In Germany, yarrow is approved as a treatment for menstrual cramps. Crushed leaves can be applied to wounds to stop bleeding and heal cuts. Fresh leaves can also be chewed to relieve toothaches. Sties and pinkeye can be relieved with a eyewash or compress made from yarrow tea.
Caution: Yarrow should not be used internally during pregnancy or attempts to become pregnant. Don't confuse yarrow with fool's parsley or or poison hemlock. These species have similar leaves and flowers, but their leaves are more broad and lacy. Be sure to take all specifications (color, height, smell, leaf placement) into consideration when you are first learning to identify a plant- don't just look at the flower or the leaves.
White, Linda B. The Herbal Drugstore. United States of America: Rodale Inc., 2000. Print.
Tekiela, Stan. Wildflowers of Michigan Field Guide. Cambridge, Minnesota: Adventure Publications, Inc., 2000. Print.
Brown, Tom Jr. Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival. New York: Berkley Books, 1983. Print.