How To Forage, Harvest and Dry Yarrow

 


Yarrow grows wild in our pastures. It's one of the first plants to begin growing in the spring and it blooms all summer long.


It's been domesticated for today's gardens and can be grown in several colors, but the wild flowers are white or pink.


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Uses for yarrow


I try to always have some yarrow handy, either growing fresh outside or dried in a container on my herb shelf, because it's as versatile and useful as it is pretty. 



Its best-known use is to stop bleeding when applied to a wound, like styptic powder. The leaves are antimicrobial and pain-relieving. 


Yarrow is also used as a sleep aid, on rashes and itchy skin, bruises, sprains and swelling, to relieve congestion from allergies and colds, as an aid for eczema and dry skin, and to induce sweating to break fevers. The leaf, flower and stem are used.


Remember, before using this or any herb, please research it fully. 
You are responsible for your own health. 


Yarrow can be used in so many ways, including teas, tinctures, washes, infused oil, compresses, wound powder (made from finely powdered dried herbs), or infused in witch hazel as a spray for varicose veins. 


You can also purchase yarrow essential oil and flower essence. I've just scratched the surface, there is so much more this herb can do.


I include yarrow in my all-purpose salve and use it on humans, horses and goats alike.  


Historically yarrow was brewed into tea and then used as a wash or as a compress on wounds to prevent infection. 


NOTE: use of yarrow should be avoided during pregnancy and if you use blood thinners. Always research before using an herb. You are responsible for your own health.


It really shines in skincare products, where it nourishes and restores irritated skin and promotes healing. It's safe for sensitive skin and is extremely nourishing.


How to identify yarrow


Easily recognized, yarrow (Achillea millefolium) has ferny, feathery foliage. It was the first herb I learned to identify and use. 



You'll find wild yarrow growing in grassy areas in full sun. The plants are about a foot tall, topped with flower heads that are each comprised of many small flowers. 



How to harvest yarrow


Usually I harvest enough to make a big batch of infused oil to use throughout the year, but the past couple of years there hasn't been as much yarrow growing in the pasture, so I left them untouched so they could reproduce.


This year I'm happy to see that there is a bumper crop out there.


I often double- or even triple-infuse the oil with several herbs, which might include plantain, chickweed, comfrey, and lemon balm, depending on what I have on hand. I make the oil into salves or creams, or use it in my homemade goat milk soap.


Double-infusing refers to infusing a single herb, straining out the plant material when it's finished, then adding another herb to the same oil and letting it infuse. 


This works well when the plants aren't all ready to harvest at the same time. 


How to harvest and dehydrate yarrow.


Harvest yarrow on a warm, sunny day when the plants are in full bloom. Cut the stem just above a leaf node. You can use both the flowers and the leaves.


Wait until the dew has dried, but before the plants' essential oils have dissipated in the heat of the day.


How to harvest and dry yarrow.


You can use fresh yarrow to make infused oil if you wish, but you should let the plants wilt for several hours before adding the oil. This will reduce the moisture in the plants, which can make the oil more likely to go rancid or to develop mold.


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How to dry yarrow


Use kitchen shears to cut the flower heads off the stems, as close to the flowers as you can. Then, holding the top of the stem in one hand, run your hand down the stem from top to bottom to remove the leaves.


If you've cut some multi-branched stems, cut them into single stems before removing the leaves. It's much easier.




You can dry yarrow in a dehydrator on a low heat setting, or just spread out the herbs on a cookie sheet and dry in a very slow oven. Set the oven as low as it will go so you don't burn or cook the herbs, and check often.


Related post: How to Dry Homegrown Herbs


The herbs are "done" when the pieces snap easily and cleanly.


How to harvest and dehydrate yarrow.


Add your dried yarrow to a storage container and store in a cool, dry, dark place. Be sure to label your container - dried herbs tend to look alike and it's easy to forget which jar is which.


How to harvest and dry yarrow.


Blood stop powder


To make a blood stop powder, process the dried yarrow leaves in a coffee grinder or blender until they form a fine powder. You can use the flower heads as well but I've found they don't grind up as fine.


Keep the powder in a small dry container such as an empty pill bottle and label it well with the contents and the directions for use.


To use, pour the powder over a wound, then blow off the excess.


If the wound is bleeding profusely, the bleeding won't stop, or the wound is deep and may need stitches, seek medical help immediately. 



Fresh yarrow flowers are a pretty filler in a vase of assorted wildflowers, and naturally-dried flower heads are also quite attractive in the fall. 


Yarrow seeds are available online. Buy some and plant them in your garden or broadcast them in a sunny field to have this beneficial herb close at hand.


How to forage, dry and use yarrow.



Remember, before using this or any herb, please research it fully.
You are responsible for your own health.



Related posts:
Plantain
Woolly Mullein
Echinacea
DIY Herb Field Guide


How to harvest and dry yarrow, from Oak Hill Homestead


This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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19 comments

  1. Wow, I love this idea! Just another something to keep in mind when I have some rambling land. Your plants are beautiful, by the way. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. I'm really going to have to search my property to see if we have any yarrow. I'd love to do this! Lately I've been drying oregano and thyme.

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  3. Thank you, Rachel! I'm glad you visited and hope you'll come back.

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  4. Tammy, yarrow is easy to find when in bloom, and also in the fall when the flowerheads have dried. I hope you have some on your property. Oregano and thyme - I bet your house smells good. :-)

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  5. What a great idea! I love the smell of yarrow but never thought of what I could do with it. I have some in a big planter blooming right now and it grows wild around the fields like crazy. Thanks for sharing!

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  6. April, yarrow does have a distinctive scent, doesn't it? It's a plant with "many talents" and is also pretty, even in the fall when it's dead.

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  7. This was great! We shared with our Facebook fans at homesteadlady.com.

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  8. Anonymous11:44 AM

    Great idea! We have a hybrid yellow yarrow growing in our garden. Do you think we could use this in addition to the "wild" white yarrow?

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  9. Thank you so much for sharing, Tessa!

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  10. littlelagarden: I believe I read that all colors can be used. The white might be more effective, but "use what you've got" is my motto.

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  11. Great Post! New follower here. I use yarrow with my chickens and we have tons growing in the field next door. I am glad to know I can dry it and use it all winter as well. We also have Queen Annes Lace growing in amongst the yarrow, so its been interesting to note the side-by-side differences.
    Lisa
    Fresh Eggs Daily
    http://www.fresh-eggs-daily.com/2013/06/the-benefits-of-yarrow-for-your-chickens.html

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  12. Lisa, that field must be gorgeous! Yes, it would be interesting to see the differences of these similar flowers side-by-side. Thanks for visiting and for following!

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  13. I have yarrow in my pasture. This year there was some yellow flowers that looked like the yarrow. Does yarrow come in yellow also? I will have to try to do this with my yarrow. I noticed that someone else has a yellow one. I just wanted to be sure that it is a yarrow plant.

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  14. Thank you for visiting, Jenny. Wild yarrow is white, but there are cultivated varieties that have yellow flowers. Check the leaves and see if they are similar. I'd also ask a local expert, perhaps your county extension agent. Could it be yellow because it's beginning to dry out? Mine is now turning yellow-brown.

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  15. What a beautiful blog! Thank you for all the wonderful herbal information that you shared on the Art of Home-Making Mondays. I enjoyed this post very much.

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  16. Thank you, JES. I'm so glad you stopped by!

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  17. Great post! I've yet to use yarrow, but I am familiar with it. Thanks for sharing.

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  18. Thank you for sharing at Tuesdays with a Twist! You've been featured this morning @ Back to the Basics!!!

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