Medicinal Weeds: Common Yarrow

Photo of Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

When I see Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), I'm often reminded of the time this plant's medicine came to my aid. I'd managed to cut my tongue -- not too deeply, but enough that blood was flowing. Letting wounds bleed some is typically a good thing, but after a while, I decided to test out some wild medicine.

Months prior, I'd prepared a tincture* of Common Yarrow tops, which I'd read when applied to a wound can promote clotting. So, I put a dropper-full of tincture on a piece of cotton gauze, pressed it to my tongue, and, in under a minute, the bleeding stopped. During the green season, chewing up a leaf and applying it as a poultice would have a similar effect. Maine herbalist Deb Soule (of Avena Botanicals in Rockport, ME) shares many medicinal applications for Common Yarrow in this short video.

Medicine aside, Common Yarrow is a great plant with whom to engage your senses. Look closely at flowering plants to observe the tiny disc flowers, in addition to the more noticeable ray flowers. Feel the finely divided leaves and the fuzzy stem. Smell a patch of plants (crush up a leaf, if needed). If you like, brew and enjoy a cup of Common Yarrow tea. Whatever you do, I encourage you to appreciate this widespread medicinal plant. (To view the following images in full-size, click here.)

*Made by stuffing a glass jar with freshly chopped plant material, filling it with 80 proof vodka, shaking the capped jar daily for at least a moon/month, straining out the plant material, and storing the resulting liquid in a cool, dark place.

Note: Before making medicine with any wild plants, please make sure you’ve identified the plants positively and considered my other foraging guidelines.

4 thoughts on “Medicinal Weeds: Common Yarrow”

    1. I’m not familiar with glucose extracts. I’ve heard of people using glycerine (perhaps that’s what you meant), but I’ve not tried this myself.

    1. Good question. In his book Making Plant Medicine (2000, p. 240), Richo Cech writes that the various yarrow cultivars are medicinally inferior to the wild, white-flowered Common Yarrow.

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