Foraging: Yarrow

© J.N. Urbanski

© J.N. Urbanski

We have a whole field full of yarrow this year, which is an anti-microbial herb with a distinctive aroma that’s reminiscent of anti-bacterial oils like tea tree. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be harvesting the best of it and drying it for use as a tea.

Yarrow is revered in the world of natural medicine with reports of it having universal healing powers, arresting conditions like bleeding, pain, infection, allergies, colds, flu, toothache, and gastro-intestinal disorders like cramps, bloating, indigestion and even urinary tract infections. The herb is an astringent and the liver benefits from yarrow’s bitter components. When taken as tea, yarrow is said to increase the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

Yarrow is recorded in ancient history in books like The Iliad wherein Achilles treats the wounds of his soldiers with it. The Anglo-Saxons used it to treat cuts, bites and strings. It’s an ancient antibiotic and best harvested during the summer when you can harvest its yellow/white flowers and leaves like little feather boas.

However, one enormous concern I had is that yarrow is easily confused with plants like poison hemlock, so it was absolutely essential that I made a positive identification of my yarrow. I did not harvest it until I’d read everything I could about it, watched countless educational videos, read numerous books and consulted a qualified professional. It’s no mistake that I’ve waited this long to pluck up the courage to pick it all. There’s no room for error in the world of foraging. You must be absolutely certain about exactly what you are picking, which is why I’ll never pick a mushroom, even though I’ve seen so many in the past few months, until I’ve taken a class or two. Or three…

Find details of yarrow on sites like USDA or Farmers Almanac.

One thought on “Foraging: Yarrow

  1. John Hoeko

    So that’s what yarrow looks like. Thanks. By the way, I’m an almost life long mushroom forager (Learned from my Grandfather, Father, and Uncle). Getting a little late in the season for the ones I look for unless we get a good, soaking rain. Would be happy to take you on a walk next year if you wish. One of my best spots is two minutes from Oak Ridge.
    If you’re still interested in Sharon Yates, I posted her on my Facebook page.
    Take care, Jenny Neal; and, say hello to Michael.

    John Hoeko


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