Yarrow (Achillea millefolium L., Asteraceae) is a perennial plant in the daisy family that grows to 1 m. It has feathery leaves finely divided into tiny leaflets that are covered with silky hairs, as are the stems. Yarrow has whitish flowers in a flat-topped inflorescence at the ends of the stems, and blooms from June to November. Each flower has 5 petal-like rays and 10-30 disk florets.


Area Of Adaptation

Yarrow grows best in open sunny areas, and is found in fields and along roadsides throughout the province. It is very common in disturbed sites. It prefers a moderately rich, well-drained acidic soil with a pH of 4.5 - 7.0. It needs full sun and is drought resistant. Its natural distribution includes almost all of Canada (in Manitoba at least as far north as Churchill), southward into Mexico, and Eurasia.

Cultivation And Processing

The seeds require light for germination, and should be sown just under the surface of the soil in the spring. They must be kept moist until germination in about 2 weeks. Seed can also be started indoors in March and transplanted in late May. Yarrow may also be propagated by root division in the spring. Clumps should be divided every 3 - 4 years to stimulate growth. Yarrow is self-propagating after it is established and is winter hardy in Zone 2. Plants should be kept weed-free until established. No herbicides are registered for use on yarrow in Canada or the US. Yarrow should be harvested when it is beginning to flower, as this is when the essential oils are at their peak. Dry in the shade. Dried aerial parts are used for teas, while the oil is obtained by steam distillation.


There is a steady market for yarrow as an ornamental and in dried flower arrangements.

The estimated annual demand for yarrow flowers is approximately 50 tons domestically and 250 tons worldwide. Yarrow sold for US$2.35/lb for non-medicinal use, and US$19.10 - $24.75/lb for organically grown (as of Feb. 14, 1998). A tincture of yarrow is registered with Health Canada in the Herb and Natural Product over-the-counter drug category, and there are also registered homeopathic tablet preparations.