Displaying an array of white and pink flowers to catch the eye and wispy leaves to match, its no wonder why yarrow looks just as good in gardens as they do out in the fields.
Foraging for yarrow is great for beginners, as it’s very common and easy to identity thanks to its fine, fern-like lacy/feathery leaves that spiral round the plant.
The flowers are small white to pink flowers, found in a dense, umbrella like shaped compact clusters. There are countless species of yarrow, therefore please note flowers can range in colour and size.
Oh, and did we mention it makes it a banging cup of tea?
Can be found in most grasslands (fields, meadows, roadsides and gardens).
Often considered to be quite an aggressive weed.
Leaves | March to November
Flowers | June to October
Fairly neutral with a slightly medicinal taste – many find them a little bit bitter.
Keen to give it a go?
Try it in a tea first to get a feel for its flavour – just add a few large leaves in a mug of boiling water, let steep minimum 10 minutes, add honey to sweeten or a slice of lemon.
Using the leaves:
The leaves can be consumed raw or cooked, as a herb or salad leaf. Used to make salves, ointments, or other topical uses (to be used externally).
Using the flowers:
Best used to make teas and tinctures to be taken internally.
Yarrow has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years, to stop bleeding, heal open wounds, relieve pain and fight infection.
It can be beneficial in alleviating digestive complaints and symptoms of colds and flu, and is also used to treat haemorrhoids, ease menstrual discomfort and postpartum bleeding, and reduce inflammation in the gums.
Leaves and flowers can be steeped in boiling water to make tea, and are best used fresh when applied as poultices for treating minor wounds.
Yarrow’s virtues as a healing herb have been well known since ancient times. Its Latin name, Achillea millefolium, is derived from the Greek Hero Achilles, who was said to rely on this humble herb to heal his warriors on the battle field. It’s been used in Western Europe and China as a tool for divination for centuries, including a variety of dream and waking rituals and verses for discovering one’s true love.
Although in general yarrow is a very nutritious and beneficial plant to add to the diet, it is recommended that it is not consumed in large quantities.
When foraging for yarrow, be aware that it can trigger allergic reactions to those allergic to plants from the daisy family. Always try a little bit first time round, to double check.
Due to its stimulating action on the uterus, it is recommended to avoid ingesting yarrow when pregnant.
On the plus side, Yarrow is also fantastic for your garden wildlife – the flowers attract beneficial insects such as predatory wasps, which eat common garden pests and pollinate other plants. Boom!
The leaves look a little like chamomile or pineapple weed (however, both of these are edible).
The flowers can be confused with Queen Anns Lace (also edible).
Many of our Cookery Courses include a short foraging walk as part of the day, introducing you to a handful of commonly found wild ingredients.
Essential if you’re picking on private land. As with everything, respect is key and goes a long way.
If in doubt, leave it out.
Why rush? Nature isn’t going anywhere! Take time to ensure you safely identify your finds.
One step at a time.
No one becomes an expert overnight. Build up your identification skills and your confidence will grow.
Enjoy the process.
Foraging is not only about what you pick but the experience – Immerse yourself in nature and appreciate the little things. The fresh air, birds chirping, a light breeze or the feel of soil beneath your feet.
With an abundance of forage at your doorstep, why not start local?
The 10% rule.
Only take what you need (or 10% of what is available). This not only means that you leave plenty for other foragers, but also local wildlife. We want to enjoy our ecosystem not damage it.
Leave room for regrowth.
Never uproot a plant so that it is always able to regrow after you have foraged from it.
Wash before consumption.
Always give your foraging finds a good wash before consuming, especially when picking on busy routes/path.