You can always tell a well-used plant by an abundance of common names and folklore stories about it. The herb yarrow (or Achillea millefolium) definitely falls into this category. It has been suggested that it got its Latin name from Achilles of Greek mythology using it to stop the bleeding of his soldiers, while the millefolium part just refers to the fact that each leaf is formed of many little leaflets. The common names, Soldier’s wound wort and Knight’s milfoil, support the fact that it has always been used for it’s wound healing properties and ability to stop bleeding. This makes it an excellent plant to remember if you need to administer first aid in the wild!
It was traditional to sew up a parcel with an ounce of yarrow and place it under the pillow before bed to receive a vision of your future husband or wife.
Of course you need to say the following rhyme to make it work…:
“Thou pretty herb of Venus’ tree,
Thy true name it is Yarrow;
Now who my bosom friend must be,
Pray tell thou me to-morrow.”
Other than wound healing and dreaming of your future love, yarrow is a great herb to aid the body deal naturally with fever. It helps dilate peripheral blood vessels, therefore aiding the loss of heat and lowering body temperature gently. This blood vessel dilation also causes the lowering of blood pressure, so it can help in hypertension. Studies have found the constituents to have antioxidant, antimicrobial, antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties.
To gain the beneficial effects of this humble yet lovely herb, you can make an infusion with the fresh or dry leaves and flowers, however, in the 17th Century it was an ingredient of salads.