For my Ethnobotany assignment, I chose to do Achillea millefolium. Commonly referred to as Yarrow, Achillea is native to North America, Asia, and Europe. I chose this plant because of my relationship to it and its relationship to the Pacific Northwest. My journey with plant medicine started a few years ago after being diagnosed with Endometriosis, after feeling failed by modern medicine I started to look to the plant allies around me. I grew up on a small island called Orcas in Lummi territory, right across from Victoria, where Achillea truly grows everywhere. Once I read up on what a powerful medicine this plant is I started to incorporate it into my daily routine of trying to keep my Endometriosis at bay. I had profound results using this plant as medicine and that’s why I felt called to do this assignment on Achillea. Achillea has a long history of being used for many medicinal practices in a multitude of different cultures. Achillea is a diaphoretic, hypotensive, hemostatic, astringent, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, diuretic, antimicrobial, bitter and a hepatic. All of these constituents of Achillea make it an amazing herb for numerous things. In my own practice, I use Achillea for regulating my period and lighting my blood flow, I also use it as a salve to heal burns, cuts or any kind of light abrasion to the skin. Additionally, I like to dry Achillea and use it as a tea for fevers and to support my immune system when I feel the beginning stages of a cold coming on.
First Nations on what we now refer to as Vancouver Island have been using Achillea as medicine for hundreds of years, Achillea is said to be good for toothaches, keeping away mosquitos during the summer, poultice for sore muscles and as a widespread tonic. These are just a few of the recorded usages and there is most likely a large number of unrecorded uses for Achillea in First Nation communities in British Columbia.
Achillea tends to grow in soil that has been slightly distressed or has a high content of sand. In British Columbia, this plant can grow in any type of altitude. It is easy to incorporate Achillea in your garden because of its ability to grow in countless types of environments. However, the plants.usda.gov website lists that Achillea can become invasive if not properly attended to and looked after, from my first hand experience of growing Achillea in my personal herb garden I have learned that it is essential to keep and eye on it to make sure this plant doesn’t spread in unwanted places.
Achillea typically flowers in May to August. Although, I have noticed in the Pacific Northwest that it sometimes sticks around till October or even late November. When I harvested mine about a week and a half ago it seemed to be flourishing.
My love for this plant seems to be shared with a great deal of people who are intrigued by herbal medicine, I have heard many fellow plant lovers say that Yarrow is in their top 5 favorite herbs, there truly is such a widespread amount of varying ways to work with this special plant, I am extremely grateful to get to have a connection like this with an herb that is native to the lands I was raised on.