Yarrow is a beautiful flowering herb that you might not have paid attention to in your backyard. Here’s why you want to harvest and dry the plant and how to use it.
What is Yarrow?
Yarrow is a perennial herb that many believe has medicinal properties. The flower tops have white, 5-petal flowers with yellow stamens. They are highly fragrant.
The plant grows wild in many areas along roads, edges of fields and walking trails. Or perhaps you have it plentiful in your backyard or on your farm or homestead.
It can be easy to spot with its tiny flowers and dainty leaves that will remind you of tiny feathers. Yarrow can grow in pink and yellow, though white is the most collected by herbalists.
Is Yarrow the Same as Queen Anne’s Lace?
No. Though the two plants look very similar, they are not the same species. Queen Anne’s Lace has hairy stems, and Yarrow has more feather-like leaves. Here’s how to tell Yarrow from Poison Hemlock which looks very similar.
How to Harvest Yarrow
The most ideal time to cut yarrow is on a warm morning when the flowers are fully open, the dew has evaporated and the leaves are completely green (vs starting to yellow and pass). Ideally you want to do this on a dry day, not a rainy day.
Cutting the top four inches off of the top of the plant (including the flower head) and right above a leaf node will help encourage the plant to possibly flower again in the same season. Hopefully the flower will produce more flowers and seeds and then start new plants.
When foraging the herb to preserve it, you can harvest both the flower heads and leaves separately. You will want to keep each for different reasons.
Cut the flower heads off just where all the many stems meet the one long stem. You can do this with pruners or kitchen shears. To keep the leaves, simply grasp the stem between your fingers and gently pull down. The leaves should easily fall into a pile.
How to Dry Yarrow
To dry the plant, shake off any beetles or bugs that may be on the cut pieces. Then lay out in a cool, dark and dry area. An herb drying rack is perfect for this. You could also place the plants in a paper bag and let it sit somewhere for awhile.
I removed the leaves from the stems and let them dry on their own. Doing so seemed to speed up the process.
If you are in a hurry (or don’t have the space for drying herbs around your house) you can use a food dehydrator to get the moisture out quickly. Just be sure to place the delicate leaves and flowers on the lowest setting as to not burn them.
Store the dried leaves in one air tight jar and the flower tops in another. Label both jars and store in a cool, dark place.
How Do You Use Dried Yarrow?
Once the leaves or flowers are dried, there are a variety of ways to use yarrow, including:
- Soaps (see my easy microwave yarrow soap recipe)
- Stop bleeding / Healing Wounds
- Improves skin tone
Add to a Natural Medicine Kit
To make a wound powder as part of a natural herbal remedy kit, you will want to grind the dried leaves. Using a blender or coffee grinder, grind them into a very fine powder. Flowers can be added, but the consistency won’t be as fine.
Sprinkle on a cleaned cut or wound and allow the yarrow to help with pain and blood clotting.
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Interested in foraging? Here’s how to harvest elderflowers and how to use them.