Yarrow or Achillea millefolium (common names Common Yarrow, Nosebleed plant, Old Man's Pepper, Staunch weed and Soldier's Woundwort) is a flowering plant in the family Asteraceae, native to the Northern Hemisphere. Yarrow is known as herbal militaris, for its use in staunching the flow of blood from wounds. This is one of my favorite herbs because of its easy accessibility to stop bleeding from skinned knees and other forms of bleeding. The leaves encourage clotting, so it can be used fresh for nosebleed.
Yarrow is considered a companion plant, not only repelling some bad insects while attracting good, predatory ones. It attracts predatory wasps, which drink the nectar and then use insect pests as food for their larvae. Similarly, it attracts ladybugs and hoverflies. Its leaves are thought to be good fertilizer, and a beneficial additive for compost. It is also considered directly beneficial to other plants, improving the health of sick plants when grown near them. As a ground cover, yarrow is excellent for improving soil quality.
Growth habit: Yarrow blooms from June to September in the eastern part of the United States. Flowers are in flat-topped clusters at the ends of the stems. The individual flowers are very small, with fine white petals and a yellowish center. Yarrows can be planted to combat soil erosion due to the plant's resistance to drought. Yarrow is a perennial, reproducing by seeds and from underground runners.
Harvest: Harvest during summer and autumn while flowering.
Eatable qualities: Yarrow has also been used as a food, and was very popular as a vegetable in the 17th century. The younger leaves are said to be a pleasant leaf vegetable when cooked as spinach, or in a soup and is said to be sweet with a slight bitter taste. I do not like yarrow leaves; I find it too bitter for my taste.
Trivia: The stalks of yarrow are dried and used as a randomizing agent in I Ching divination.
The genus name Achillea is derived from mythical Greek character, Achilles, who reportedly carried it with his army to treat battle wounds.
The purple portion of the root from the white yarrow plant is a natural numbing agent when crushed. Native Americans would often chew this portion of the plant if they had painful open sores in their mouth.