Wednesday, July 09, 2008


is the plant of the week. Achillea millefolium in the Latin.

qualities and uses:

It's a good bitter. According to Joe Hollis, the Chinese always eat a little bit of some wild, bitter herb (like yarrow, or wormwood) before starting on dinner. The bitterness you taste are tannins and saponins, which augment the bile and prime it's release in the stomach, making digestion of heavy peasant food a breeze.

Also should be used as a poultice for battlefield wounds. The scientific name comes from the Illiad, where monster-hero Achilles heals some of his downed comrades at Troy with the miraculous herb. And while the path of the forest gardener is somewhat less dangerous that that of other eco-anarchists, this time of year we all have to deal with small nicks and cuts on our legs and arms as we wade through wild blackberry patches. To self-heal with a yarrow poultice, just chew up a leaf, and spitooey a fairly dry loogy of the herbed spittle onto your fingertip for application to superficial knicks.

Now is the time to harvest yarrow for drying, you can tell because it is flowering and that's the sign. I'm going to be harvesting a bunch today in Melbourne, in the vacant field abbutting my Kentucky Kibbutz. Linnaeus reported that it makes a decent and highly innebriating bittering agent in beer, when substituted for the more standard hops.

No comments: