How To Forage, Harvest and Dry Yarrow

Yarrow plants growing wild in a field, with distinctive white flowers

Yarrow is a versatile and resilient herb, cherished for centuries for its role in natural remedies. Harvesting and drying yarrow is a simple process that allows you to enjoy its benefits year-round. In this post, we'll guide you through the steps to properly identify, harvest and dry yarrow to preserve its healing qualities. 

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 modern flower gardens and can be grown in several colors, but the wild flowers and white or pink.

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Stems of white yarrow flowers

Uses for yarrow

I like 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.

Yarrow's 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.


A close-up of the tiny white flowers that make up a yarrow stem.

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 might mistake the clusters of tiny flowers of other plants, but you can easily identify yarrow by the leaves.


A woman's hand holding yarrow leaves.

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.


An armful of yarrow stems and flowers, gathered from the wild, next to a sink.

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 really well in a case like this, when the plants aren't all ready to harvest at the same time. 

Harvest yarrow on a warm, sunny day when the plants are in full bloom. Wait until the dew has dried, but before the plants' essential oils have dissipated in the heat of the day.

Cut the stem just above a leaf node. You can use both the flowers and the leaves.

A white bowl full of yarrow leaves and flowers

If you are using fresh yarrow to make infused oil, let the plants wilt for several hours before adding the oil. This will reduce the moisture in the plants, which could make the oil more likely to go rancid or to develop mold.

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Please forage responsibly and ethically

It's important to forage ethically and responsibly. 

Don't forage on other peoples' land without permission. There are laws against trespassing. Also, the landowner might have plans for those wild plants, and legally, the plants belong to them. This applies whether you see a wild medicinal herb plant or a tree full of unpicked apples.

Don't take all of the plants you find. At most, take no more than 1/3 of the available plants, or 1/3 of the material of one plant. Leave enough plants for the birds, bees and wildlife, they depend on wild plants for food and shelter.

Know which part of the plant you need for your purpose. If the leaves are medicinal, don't take the entire plant. Allow the plant to live on, to flower and spread seeds, so that future generations of wildlife and people can benefit.

And finally, harvest safely. Plants that grow along a road, even a quiet country road, are likely to be contaminated by exhaust fumes, and runoff from rain can contain oil, gasoline, asphalt and other chemicals. Railroad ties leach creosote and other chemicals into the soil. 

Plants growing under power lines and in other right-of-ways are likely to have been sprayed with herbicides at some point in the growing season. Consider those plants contaminated, and don't harvest them. 

Personally, I might harvest their seeds and plant them in my garden depending on the type of plant and the specific location, and then harvest the plants that grew from those seeds, but I would not use plant material that grows along roads, train tracks, or under power lines.

How to dry yarrow

Drying or dehydrating yarrow will allow you to preserve the herb for use all year round.

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.


Yarrow leaves and flowers on a white dehydrator tray.

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.

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

A plastic jar of dehydrated yarrow, with a black lid.

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, at least not in the little coffee grinder that I use to grind spices and herbs..

Keep the powder in a small dry container 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. 

Dried brown yarrow flower heads
Naturally-dried brown yarrow flowers.

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

Yarrow seeds are available online here. Plant seeds in your garden or broadcast them in a sunny field to have this beneficial herb close at hand. The variety with white flowers is the one that's used medicinally.


Dehydrated yarrow flowers and leaves

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

Related posts:
Woolly Mullein
I Hate Mowing the Yard (plantain and other herbs)

How to harvest and dry yarrow, from Oak Hill Homestead





Kathi Rodgers is the CEO and writer at Oak Hill Homestead and the voice behind HOMEGROWN: Your Backyard Garden Podcast.

Passionate about living a simpler, healthy life, Kathi teaches new gardeners, goat owners and folks interested in living a more self-reliant life how to dig in and grow their dreams.


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