Yarrow (Taraxacum officinale) is a perennial herbaceous plant native to Europe and Asia. It grows up to 10 feet tall with slender stems. The leaves are opposite, oblong or ovate in shape and alternate along the stem. They have 5 leaflets each measuring 2 inches long, 1 inch wide, and ½ inch thick. There are no flowers. The plant produces small white berries which contain thymol, a chemical similar to aspirin.
The leaves are used in cooking, medicine and cosmetics. They have been used medicinally since ancient times and their use as food preservatives dates back at least to the Middle Ages. The leaves were traditionally chewed or crushed before meals or drinks to prevent tooth decay and other diseases.
The leaves were also used to treat coughs, colds and sore throats. They have been used in folk remedies for skin problems such as burns, cuts and insect bites. The leaves were also applied topically to treat rashes, boils and sores.
In the past century they became popularly known as “yarrow” because of their tendency to grow wild throughout much of North America during the 19th Century. Up until that time they were known as milfoil, a name which is still used in the horticultural industry.
Yarrow has been used in the perfume industry since at least the middle ages because of its delicate and sweet scent. It was once used medicinally to help with diarrhea. Today yarrow is used medicinally in homeopathy, most commonly to stop bleeding.
Yarrow grows wild in some parts of North America and can be found along roadsides and in waste areas. Its uses are many and varied, which is why it is sometimes called “the doctor of the fields.”
Yarrow can be difficult to grow from seed, so purchase plants or divide them from a wild stand. If you do need to start the seeds, use moist peat moss and a propagator, as they don’t like being transplanted and take two to three months to reach maturity.
Yarrow is a traditional cut flower, with its soft ferny foliage adding great texture and color contrast to a bouquet. It can also be used in dried arrangements. While fresh, the fragrance is not intense, but it can be used in pot pourri.
As a medicinal herb, yarrow has been used topically to treat skin disorders such as boils and can be made into a soothing eye wash. It has also been used internally to stop diarrhea and to calm stomach cramps. It should not be used during pregnancy, as it is a hormone-like herb that can cause contractions.
In order to produce more yarrow flowers for cutting, the plants should be divided every three or four years. The older the plant, the more divisions can be made. Cut back on water in the late fall and winter to encourage root growth and prepare the plant for new growth in the spring.
Yarrow can be dried for using in potpourri, but should not be left to dry in direct sunlight, as this reduces the fragrance.
Yarrow can also be used for cooking. It has a distinctive sweet and spicy taste and is traditionally used to flavor meats. It is used in sauces, particularly those called Robert and Béarnaise, as well as some beers and vinegars.
Special Note: If you purchase yarrow from a garden center, make sure to ask whether or not it is the ‘double’ variety, which has an increased amount of yellow on the petals.
Yarrow grows wild throughout the U.S. and Canada and in many other parts of the world.
It has been used medicinally for at least 2,000 years by a wide variety of cultures including Native Americans, the Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.
Yarrow was carried by Roman soldiers to stanch bleeding and it is still used in first aid kits today.
A decoction (a tea made by boiling the plant for ten minutes in water) of the root has been used as an astringent for rashes, bleeding, gastrointestinal problems and whooping cough.
The fresh or dried plant has been taken orally to ease labor pains and hemorrhages, as well as to stop bleeding from small wounds. The dried aerial parts have been steeped in water to make a yellow dye.
Yarrow has been used in the treatment of headaches, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, lung congestion, PMS and endometriosis.
Yarrow is used in Chinese medicine internally for bleeding and externally for skin problems. It is also astringent.
TRADITIONAL BEAUTY RECIPES
In Tibet, a rinse of yarrow is used to make hair glossy.
In Morocco, the fresh flowers are added to black tea and used as a hair rinse to darken gray hairs.
The fresh or dried herb is also used in a rinse to remove lice and nits from the hair.
Yarrow can also be used in a facial steamer to calm and soothe the skin.
YARROW FOR THE GARDEN
While not used as a cut flower, yarrow is a beautiful ornamental garden plant. The double-flowered varieties have ferny foliage and delicate flowers.
Yarrow is a good companion plant for tomatoes. Its aromatic oils discourage the growth of harmful fungi and promote the health of the plants.
Yarrow is an excellent addition to any wildflower garden. It has a long flowering period, lasting from spring into fall. Its deer-resistant nature makes it a good choice for a natural wildlife garden.
Yarrow has been known as a magical herb since ancient times. In Celtic countries it was used in divination and the Greek philosopher Pliny wrote that if yarrow stalks were cast and interpreted according to their position, they would tell the future.
Yarrow has been placed under pillows to bring prophetic dreams and ward against nightmares, and if placed in a bag and hung in a house it is said to keep out ghosts.
A tea made from the plant has been used to invoke the aid of faeries.
Yarrow has been used in love divination and magic. If a maiden picks only the upright yarrow flowers that haven’t yet opened and puts them under her pillow it is said she will dream of her future husband.
Magical properties have also been attributed to the herb’s ability to stop bleeding, which explains its old name ‘kings’ mystic flower’.
Yarrow can be dried and made into a potion for magical charms, added to the dregs of a love potion for extra power or added to exorcism incenses to disperse evil spirits.
Yarrow has also traditionally been used in protective magic and in spells of courage. It can be carried to repel negativity or placed around a house or room for the same effect.
Yarrow can be used in spells for justice, especially if mixed with rowan. It can also be used in moon magic and rituals.
A yarrow wand can be made by wrapping the dried herb in yellow thread, or carrying it in a yellow bag.
Yarrow can be burned alone as an incense or added to other incenses, such as those used for astral or psychic work.
The essential oil is said to relieve mental fatigue and lack of concentration. It is also reputed to be good for respiratory and urinary problems.
Yarrow can be inhaled as an essential oil for headaches and to improve mental clarity.
SageWoman’s Herbal Formulary
Yarrow is used in the following formulas:
Cauldron Colds (yarrow, peppermint, lavender) Eases the discomforts of a cold. Put 1 teaspoon of this mixture into a hot bath to ease cold symptoms and add another dose internally.
Lugos’ Lucky Love Potion (rose petals, lavender, yarrow, lemon balm) To make someone fall in love with you. This is a very powerful spell so be careful.
Midsummer’s Night Dream (lavender, mugwort, yarrow, rose petals) Used to induce prophetic dreams when drank as a tea before bed.
Psalm (lavender, rose petals, yarrow, lemon balm) An antidepressant tea that can relieve mild cases of clinical depression when taken regularly. Should not be used by those with severe depression or other mental illnesses without medical supervision.
Sorrow Ease (chamomile, lavender, Midsummer’s Night Dream, yarrow) A tea that can relieve mild to moderate depression. Best taken over a long period of time.
Tears of Ereshkigal (myrtle, rose petals, yarrow) A perfume that can help you to deal with grief.
A Story of Yarrow
In the days of old, when Magic was in full flower, the world was a much different place. The Gods were closer to mortals than they are now and many walked among them in the flesh. Mortals and Immortals alike honored the Old Ones and their mighty works.
Hope, Joy and Laughter were all much closer to the surface in those days.
It was on one such day, when Man and Immortal alike rejoiced and feasted that Eros, God of Love, was wounded in a hunting accident.
The arrow that pierced his heart was tipped in the poison of a sharp-tongued tongue. The waspish words had been spoken by his wife, the beautiful but vain goddess Psyche.
Although Eros was immortal, no one can survive the poison of a black heart and he soon felt its effects. His skin grew ashen, his hair fell out and his lips turned blue.
None could help him for none knew what ailed him. He had not wounded in any physical sense and even the most skilled of healers would have been hard pressed to mend the invisible wound.
Eros lay on his bed, his body wracked with fever and his eyesight growing dim. His beloved Psyche wept over him, begging him to hold on, but the God of Love would not surrender to such a fate. He had too much living to do and too many passions yet to explore.
When all seemed lost, Eros gathered the last of his ebbing strength and pointed to a garden beyond his balcony. “Await me there” he told Psyche and then, with one last effort, he lifted himself off the bed and out the window.
Psyche stood amongst the flowers waiting for her husband. Soon after, Eros appeared, frail and pale, but unmistakable. He took his wife in his arms and together they ascended to the heavens.
From that day on, no one saw Psyche again. Her palace lay empty for many years before finally being broken up and sold for scrap. It is said that her ghost still roams the ruins on moonlit nights, mourning the loss of her one true love.
The garden that Eros had pointed out is still there. Even through the changes of centuries it has never vanished and still remains in the place where Psyche waited for her husband. It is a place of peace and tranquility and even through far from abandoned, it is still known today as “Eros’ Garden”.
The plants within are a mixture of mortal and immortal. Their scents, their essences can calm even the most troubled soul.
Use a small amount of Tears of Ereshkigal as perfume or burn a pinch in your bedroom at night. Whatever sadness you feel will melt away.
If you find yourself with an excess, market it as a “Love Potion”. Just make sure that you don’t overcharge for it!
The magicians at the Aranmore Academy of Magic have been trying to recreate Eros’ potion for centuries. They’ve come close a few times but unfortunately, there’s always been some sort of unforeseen side-effect. One such attempt resulted in everyone who used the potion growing a pair of fine antlers!
It wasn’t until the 20th century that they discovered the combination that we have today. It didn’t have any major side-effects, although it’s not recommended for people who are allergic to roses.
The Tears of Ereshkigal were extremely hard to come by, but the magician’s union was able to get a few drops from a family in the city of Sumer.
The only dangerous ingredient is the black lotus extract. It can be found throughout Casiorn but it must be acquired through illegal channels and one must be extremely careful in dealing with smugglers.
The Aranmore Academy of Magic have made inquiries to the Kishak government about buying the recipe for this lotus Extract, and have even offered to provide free magical protection to all Kishak troops should they be deployed to fight in Casiorn.
To this day, King Hagen has not responded.
Sources & references used in this article:
… Real Estate Divisions of the Eastern Portion of the Bryn Mawr Campus, the Construction of” the Owl,” and Its Historical Color Schemes, Yarrow Street and Morris … by J Yarrow – 2008 – Chronicle Books
Firewise Plants for Utah Landscapes by T DiSabato-Aust – 2006 – Timber Press
A 6-year experience with compositae mix by GE Thomas – 1998 – repository.brynmawr.edu
The Well-tended Perennial Garden: The Essential Guide to Planting and Pruning Techniques by F Landscaping – braj.com
Separating kindhood from naturalness: Kinds are diverse in causal structure by BM Hausen – American Journal of Contact Dermatitis, 1996 – Elsevier
Pruning for Flowers and Fruit by T DiSabato-Aust – 2017 – books.google.com
The Poems by A Noyes, Y Dunham – 2019 – psyarxiv.com