Achillea Millefolium (Yarrow) – Secret Meaning: War

“Flow on for ever, Yarrow Stream!
Fulfill thy pensive duty,
Well pleased that future Bards should chant
For simple hearts thy beauty”

-William Wordsworth

Secret Meaning: War

Yarrow is thought to be one of the oldest medicinal herbs used by man.  It was found in a Neanderthal burial site in Iraq, dating from around 60,000 BC .

The genus name Achillea is derived from mythical Greek character, Achilles, who reportedly carried it with his army to treat battle wounds.

For this reason, in antiquity, yarrow was known as herbal militaris, for its use in stanching the flow of blood from wounds.   Other common names for this species include gordaldo, nosebleed plant, old man’s pepper, devil’s nettle, sanguinary, milfoil, soldier’s woundwort, thousand-leaf, and thousand-seal.

Yarrow has also been used as a food or in teas, and was very popular as a vegetable in the 17th century. The younger leaves are said to be a pleasant leaf vegetable when cooked like spinach, or in a soup. Yarrow is sweet with a slight bitter taste. The leaves can also be dried and used as an herb in cooking.

In the Middle Ages, yarrow was part of a herbal mixture known as gruit used in the flavoring of beer prior to the use of hops.


In the Hebrides a leaf held against the eyes was believed to give second sight.