Foraging for Yarrow

(Achillea millefolium)

Often overlooked, foraging for Yarrow is one of the most diverse and versatile plants you can come across on your wild adventures.
Spring, Summer, Autumn, Edible Flowers, Wild Greens
foraging for yarrow, yarrow leaves

How to Identify

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?

Yarrow Blossom in wild

When and Where

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

Flavour and How to Use

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.

Medicinal Properties

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.

History and Folklore

TBC.

Things to Note

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!

Possible Confusions

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).

Queens ann lace flowered blossom
Queen Anne’s Lace
Pineapple Weed

Foraging at our Cookery Courses

All of our Cookery Courses include a short foraging walk as part of the day, introducing you to a handful of commonly found wild ingredients.

Keen to learn more?

There are a wide range of resources on foraging. Here are just a handful of our favourite books.

Our Foraging Tips

Ask permission. 

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.

 

Celebrate locality.

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.