Each year the International Herb Society selects one herb to be honored as “Herb of the Year”. In 2024 that distinction belongs to Yarrow (Achillea).
We are most familiar with Yarrow in our gardens today as a vigorous, long blooming ornamental plant. Historically, though, Yarrow was valued for its medicinal value.
How it Got its Name
The botanical name for Yarrow (Achillea) comes from the great war hero Achilles of Greek mythology. Legend has it that Achilles used the leaves of this plant to heal his wounded warriors during the battle of Troy.
Historic Medicinal Use
In fact, Yarrow has been used historically as an herbal medicine to stop bleeding. It was known in the past as “woundwort”. Plants with the “wort” suffix are those that have been used traditionally as herbal medicine, in this case for the treatment of wounds. The aromatic leaves, when crushed, release tannins. These tannins assist with blood clotting while also causing blood vessels to constrict. Applying a compress of tannin-rich crushed Yarrow leaves to a wound will slow or stop the bleeding as well as acting as an antiseptic to reduce the chance of infection. (Note: Not a substitution for obtaining medical attention).
Valued Garden Plant
Beyond its historic use as a medicinal plant, Yarrow also has much to offer as a garden plant.
Attractive to butterflies and other beneficial pollinators
Extremely long blooming (will bloom throughout the summer if deadheaded regularly)
The yellow blooming forms keep their color when dried and are a great addition to dried flower bouquets and potpourri
Newer introductions have been selected for compact habit, strong stems, and a range of long-lasting colors