A Gardener’s Guide to White Yarrow
White yarrow, also known as milfoil or old man’s pepper, is a perennial herb. Although this plant originated from parts of Europe and Asia, it grows extremely well in North America and in fact almost anywhere! White yarrow is particularly hardy and can cope with fairly bad quality soil, which makes it easy to grow by even a novice gardener. Aside from being a hardy returning plant, yarrow is largely grown because of its benefit to other plants. Yarrow is often grown in gardens because it boosts the quality of the soil as well as the health of surrounding plants. It also helps to discourage insect pests.
Yarrow makes a nice accent plant with its tight flower configuration of dainty white or pink flowers that sit at the top of the plant. The petals are oval shaped, somewhat reminiscent of a daisy, and in their close arrangement produce flat-topped clusters. This plant averages between ten and fifteen inches in height but can grow as tall as twenty inches. The leaves can be anywhere from two to seven inches in length and tend to distribute in an even but alternated pattern down the plant’s stem. The stem of this plant is quite woody and fibrous and is covered in tiny white hair-like fibers.
Uses for White Yarrow
As mentioned earlier, the yarrow plant is often grown to help boost the quality of the garden soil which in turn stimulates the health of other nearby plants. This is hardly the only use for this plant, though! White yarrow is an herb and is used as such in medicinal and culinary purposes. The entire plant from its flowers to the leaves and stems can be used in cooking. To prepare them, they simply need to be chopped and placed in an area free of moisture so that they can dry out. Once dried, this herb can be stored in an air-tight container to be kept long-term as a seasoning for food. Its taste greatly resembles that of sage, only much stronger and aromatic. A little goes a long way with this herb, so one must be careful not to over-use this in a dish!
As for medicinal values, white yarrow was once nicknamed as ‘soldier’s woundwart’ because of its effectiveness at staunching the flow of blood from open wounds. Yarrow contains many oils, such as camphor and salicylic acid to name a few, which make it effective at treating a number of conditions. In fact, scientific studies show that yarrow can be quite effective at soothing toothaches and skin irritations and can also be used as an antiseptic or skin astringent. But not only that, it has gained a name for itself in alternative medicine as an anti-inflammatory solution and for effectively regulating menstruation, soothing flu and cold symptoms, and treating stomach ulcers. The oils from white yarrow can sometimes even be found in soap, shampoo, lotion, and facial treatments.
Growing White Yarrow
Yarrow does not require any special gardening knowledge in order to become a prolific flower in the garden. The seeds or propagation from an existing plant (with roots intact) can be planted in any type of soil with good drainage as long as the area gets plenty of sunlight. Yarrow can be started off in a pot inside the house and transplanted outdoors, but this really is not necessary as it is so easy to grow. In fact, some people complain that it may be too easy to grow and can be invasive if it is not carefully maintained and cut back once in a while. Blooming season usually begins in the early part of summer and lasts through the middle of autumn. As long as this prolific plant is trimmed back and thinned once in a while, it can be a real joy to have in the garden!