Monday, September 24, 2012

Permaculture Plants: Yarrow

Yarrow, a small herb with a big list of attributes.

Common Name: Yarrow
Scientific Name: Achillea species
Family: Asteraceae (The aster, daisy, or sunflower family)

Common Species:
  • English Mace/Sweet Yarrow (Achillea argeratum): Zone 7, edible leaves (fair), tea from leaves
  • Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium): Zone 2, edible leaves (pretty good), most common species used for food and medicine... the rest of this article is basically about this species; however, they all share very similar characterstics
  • Sneezeweed/White Tansy Yarrow (Achillea ptarmica): Zone 5, edible leaves (fair)
  • Siberian Yarrow (Achillea sibirica): Zone 6, edible leaves (fair)

Yarrow flowers are small, but extremely attractive to beneficial insects.
Yarrow is a small herbaceous plant that is currently used decoratively for its pretty flowers; however, in traditional times Yarrow was used as a food source and a medicinal plant (hence the name "soldier's woundwort"). It also happens to be drought resistant, a great groundcover tolerant of foot traffic, an attractor of beneficial insects, and much, much more. One of the most versatile plants in the food and Forest Garden.
There are about 85 species in the Achillea genus found mostly in Europe, Asia, and North America. Yarrow species have been used for food and medicine for thousands of years, and it has only been recently that the traditional uses of Yarrow have been all but forgotten. Most recent cultivars have all be developed for flowering characteristics. Fortunately, this is a very resiliant plant, and it can be found almost everywhere.

  • The genus (Achillea) is named after the Greek mythological character Achilles whose soldiers used yarrow to staunch their wounds.
  • Other names for Common Yarrow was herbal militaris, staunchweed, soldier's woundwort, knight's milefoil, carpenter's weed, nosebleed weed, and many more... a plant used to stop bleeding at home, in the shop, or on the battlefield.
  • Dried, ground leaves from Sneezeweed/White Tansy Yarrow (Achillea ptarmica) is used as a sneezing powder.
  • Some species are considered poisonous to sheep, cattle, and horses.
  • Common Yarrow was part of the classic Gruit recipe for preserving ales before the widespread use of hops.
Modern Yarrow flowers come in more colors than just white.

Primary Uses:
  • Leaves - raw or cooked. The young, tender leaves are much more palatable and are a great addition to a mixed greens salad. Cooked leaves are also good, with a sweet and bitter flavor combined - a good spinach substitute
  • Decorative plant - flowers

Secondary Uses:
  • General insect (especially bees) nectar plant - Plant for beneficial insects
  • Shelter plant for beneficial insects (bettles, lacewings, parasitic wasps, spiders)
  • Lacewings prefer to lay eggs on this plant
  • Aromatic Pest Confuser
  • Pioneer Species
  • Drought Tolerant Species
  • Maritime Tolerant Species
  • Groundcover (space plants 6-18 inches apart), quite tolerant of foot traffic
  • Dynamic Accumulator (Potassium, Phosphorus, Copper)
  • Liquid Plant Feed - soak leaves in water for a few weeks, dilute with water, apply to plants
  • Dye (yellow and green) from flowers
  • Aromatic oils from seeds used as fragrance
  • Flavoring/preserving component to beers - Part of the traditional herbal mixture, Gruit (sweet gale, mugwort, ground ivy, horehound, heather, and yarrow, plus additional local herbs), much more common before the widespread use of hops
  • Tea Plant - leaves and flowers
  • Traditional medicial plant
Harvesting: Anytime there are leaves on the plant. Seed can be havested directly from the plant.
Storage: Leaves should be used immediately or within a few days. Keep in a cool location, as with other salad greens.

A large planting (wild in this case) of Yarrow is stunning.


Plant Type: Herbaceous Perennial
Leaf Type: Deciduous
Forest Garden Use: Herbaceous Layer, Groundcover Layer
Cultivars/Varieties: Many species/varieties/cultivars/hybrids available.

Pollination: Self-Pollinating/Self-Fertile
Flowering: Summer (June - September)
Life Span: relatively unimportant as this plant spreads so easily - if one area starts to die back, just cut it out and transplant runners from the edge back to the center

Yarrow leaf has long been compared to a feather.
Size: 6 inches to 3 feet (15-90 centimeters) tall, spreads as wide as allowed
Roots: Fibrous roots that send out runners (rhizomes) which allow the plant to grow indefinitely
Growth Rate: Fast

Yarrow, in its natural environment, is often an understory plant...
We can use this knowledge in our design, like this peach tree underplanted with Yarrow

Light: Prefers full sun
Shade: Tolerates moderate shade
Moisture: Can tolerate dry to medium moisture soils
pH: can tolerate a range of soils (5.1 - 7.5)

Special Considerations for Growing:
Spreads easily. Keep this in mind in choosing a location. Can often be planted in a grass lawn (on purpose!) as it can be cut low, tolerates foot traffic, and stays green later than most grasses.

Easily divided in Spring or Autumn. Will also easily root from cuttings 4+ inches (10 cm). Seeds planted at almost anytime other than cold Winters, germinate in 4-13 weeks.

Minimal. May need to work to keep in bounds.

  • Spreading habit - the roots are quite vigorous and can send up/out shoots extensively. Be sure to plant in an area where this is tolerable.
  • Poisonous (?) – Some people will develop an allergic rash, develop photosensitivity (skin becomes sensitive to sunlight), or can develop gastrointestinal discomfort when eating this plant or even coming into contact with it. I recommend sampling small amounts of this plant to determine personal tolerance first; if you can handle it, then enjoy!


  1. Great article, this has always been a favorite plant of mine! :)

  2. Needed to see what narrow looked like, reading Warriors series by Erin Hunter and its mentioned a bunch of times.

  3. I hope you continue to have such quality articles
    one night

  4. أن الفئران من الحشرات القارضة والتي هي من أخطر الحشرات التي تهدد العفش والمفروشات والملابس وبعض أشكال الحبوب والأطعمة المتواجدة داخل البيت، كما تقوم ببعث الإرتباك والخوف داخل البيت، فأن الفئران مؤذية بالإنسان فقد تصيبه بمرض الطاعون الخطير .
    شركة مكافحة حشرات بسكاكا
    شركة رش مبيدات بسكاكا
    المبيدات الحشرية الكيميائية
    افضل شركة مكافحة حشرات


  5. شركة نقل عفش
    اهم شركات مكافحة حشرات بالخبر كذلك معرض اهم شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام والخبر والجبيل والخبر والاحساء والقطيف كذلك شركة رش حشرات بالدمام ومكافحة الحشرات بالخبر
    شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام
    شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة الجوهرة من افضل شركات تنظيف الخزانات بجدة حيث ان تنظيف خزانات بجدة يحتاج الى مهارة فى كيفية غسيل وتنظيف الخزانات الكبيرة والصغيرة بجدة على ايدى متخصصين فى تنظيف الخزانات بجدة
    شركة تنظيف خزانات بجدة
    شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالدمام
    شركة نقل عفش واثاث


  6. شركة نقل عفش بالرياض وجدة والدمام والخبر والجبيل اولقطيف والاحساء والرياض وجدة ومكة المدينة المنورة والخرج والطائف وخميس مشيط وبجدة افضل شركة نقل عفش بجدة نعرضها مجموعة الفا لنقل العفش بمكة والخرج والقصيم والطائف وتبوك وخميس مشيط ونجران وجيزان وبريدة والمدينة المنورة وينبع افضل شركات نقل الاثاث بالجبيل والطائف وخميس مشيط وبريدة وعنيزو وابها ونجران المدينة وينبع تبوك والقصيم الخرج حفر الباطن والظهران
    شركة نقل عفش بجدة
    شركة نقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة
    شركة نقل اثاث بالرياض
    شركة نقل عفش بالدمام


  7. شركة سكاي لخدمات نقل العفش والاثاث بالمنطقة العربية السعودية نحن نوفر خدمات نقل اثاث بالرياض ونقل عفش بالمدينة المنورة ونقل عفش بمكة ونقل عفش بالطائف نحن نقدم افضل نقل اثاث بخميس مشيط ونقل عفش بجدة
    شركة سكاي نقل العفش
    مدونة لنقل العفش
    شركة نقل عفش بمكة
    شركة نقل عفش بالرياض