Yarrow is quite plentiful this time of year here in Central Kentucky. The soft, feather like leaves are a common distinguishable feature that set this wild medicinal apart from other similar looking herbs.
We like to wait at least two weeks after the plant starts to bloom before harvesting, giving the flowers time to fully open. Along with it’s many medicinal uses, yarrow has a pleasing aroma and beautiful flowers, all of which make it one of our favorite springtime herbs. Once flowering, it will have white or light pink flower clusters and will stand 2-3 feet tall.
There are many medicinal uses of yarrow. The most common use being as a blood calming agent. Some practical applications include nosebleeds, wounds, hemorrhoids, normalizing blood flow, lowering blood pressure, and my personal favorite, healing and calming a nasty blood blister. It can be directly applied to wounds as a poultice (crushed and moistened), added to a bath, or ingested as a tea, infusion, or tincture.
Yarrow is truly the cure-all herb, and is not just limited to treating cardiovascular issues. You can apply it directly to an injury to reduce swelling and inflammation and reduce symptoms of pinkeye by applying a poultice wrapped in cheese cloth. Taken internally, it can also help calm diarrhea and stomach upsets, and reduce fever associated with the flu. Yarrow relieves fevers by opening your pores to promote sweating and release toxins. Drying or tincturing is the best way to store the yarrow to ensure you will be prepared when winter flu season hits. If you are steeping it as a tea, you will only need about a tablespoon of the dried herb per cup. (About 3x that if you are using fresh yarrow.) If you are interested in making a tincture, click here to watch an instructional video by Mountain Rose Herbs.
To dry the yarrow, I simply tied the bunches with twine, and hung it upside down in a dark dry closet for a few days. The yarrow is ready when dry and crisp. Remove the leaves and flowers and store in a clean dry container. Discard or compost stems.
Yarrow is one of the first wild medicinals to bloom in late Spring. It is a common herb that has much to offer and is hard to miss if you venture out into an open field. It is a favorite of most, and if you can fend off the ticks, it is a worthwhile harvest that will keep you wanting more.