Yarrow plants have a long herbal tradition in all northern hemisphere, as you can find them almost everywhere in open spaces. The genus Achillea, including all yarrow plants are herbs used in traditional British, Native American and Chinese medicine. But the Latin name Achillea derived from Greek mythology and more specifically, from Achilleas the son of a king near the current Greek city of Farsala and one of the lead characters-heroes of the ancient Greek poet Homer.
The myth says that Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty cried when Achilleas was wounded and this plant “Tear of Aphrodite” or “Achillea” came to life, with super healing powers for solders’ wounds. From then, rust from Achilleas’ spear, fall in the soil and this plant thrived everywhere, healing his solders in Trojan War. In Greece there are 24 different Achillea species, among them, famous Achillea millefolium or common yarrow which is found mostly in Mediterranean countries, but also in Asia, Europe and North America.
Achillea millefolium (millefolium is derived from “millions of little leaves”) leaves have a “cocktail” of ingredients able to stop bleeding, hence the name “herba militaris” or “soldiers herb” used in classical era. Plant leaves can stop bleeding so it can help with haemorroids, high-blood period or tooth bleeding. Also, a herbal tea with achillea can help in colds and reduce fever.
Also, achillea’s leaves and flowers can be used in culinary, raw or cooked, adding a sweet-salty flavor and also rich source of cooper, vitamins, aminoacids, nitric and phosphoric acids. Added raw in green mix of salad or in any recipe with a variety of vegetables like soups, pies, casseroles. Cultivation in your balcony or garden is super easy as a hardcore plant and in can companion a pot with parsley, dill and chives.
But be careful, it spreads and covers as empty space as it could find! Achillea holosericea, a yellow flower species, is found in sub Mediterranean grasslands, and in high mountain vegetation of the Greek mainland, providing a beautiful contrast and scenery of grey from the rocky surface and intense yellow from plant’s flowers! Photo: Achillea millefolium
* The above is not medical advice but mere suggestions for improving your diet. Before reach herbal use you should consult your doctor, especially those who have health issues, are pregnant or are under the age of 6.
**Evropi-Sofia Dalampira is an Agriculturist-MSc Botany-Biology and PhD Candidate in Agricultural-Environmental Education and Science Communication