Notes from Herb Heaven


Indigenous to Europe, Yarrow has been used for centuries to heal wounds. A hardy perennial, yarrow has fern-like foliage and bears flat heads of flowers that are pink, white or yellow.
Yarrow reaches a height of 30-60 cm. It grows in full sun in a not-too-rich soil. Yarrow also grows well in deep, wide containers outdoors. Propagate by digging out side runners and plant out 30 cm apart and water well. Can also be grown from seed. Sow in seed trays in spring and keep moist in a bright but shaded spot until seed has germinated.

Yarrow does not need fertilising. The deep roots find water at lower levels and the plant does not need constant moisture. Water deeply once or twice a week. Cut the plants down to the ground in late autumn and you will have new growth in spring. Yarrow will attract butterflies to your garden. It makes a beautiful border plant. Plant yarrow near sick plants and it will help revive them. Grow near the vegetable patch and it will help keep aphids away.

Yarrow helps break down the compost heap. Harvest yarrow when in full bloom. Tie them in bunches and hang upside down in a dark airy place. Store in airtight containers. Medicinally, yarrow is well known for its wound-healing properties. It is also used as a general tonic, as a blood cleanser. As a diuretic it is said to be a slimming aid. Use yarrow to bring down a fever as it promotes sweating. Pour a cup of boiling water over a quarter cup of fresh leaves and let it steep for 5 minutes. Strain and drink.

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Pregnant women must not use yarrow.

The yarrow leaf is rich in minerals and vitamins and has a spinach-like flavour. Its sharp taste goes well in salads and in sandwiches.

Use sparingly. 

Use the flowers in stir-fries and with curry.

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