Permaculture Plant: Yarrow

HISTORY: Yarrow has been used since ancient times: its fossilised pollen has been found in Neanderthal burial caves dating from 60 000 years ago. It’s named after Achilles, of Greek legend, who used it on soldiers’ wounds in the Trojan War. Popular as a vegetable in the 17th century.

DESCRIPTION: Yarrow is a perennial herb of the Asteraceae (daisy) family. It’s a wonderfully adaptable, low-maintenance, hardy and drought-tolerant edible and medicinal plant, that is very useful to have in any permaculture garden. It can be grown from sea level to elevations of 3500 metres, and is found almost worldwide. It’s an attractive plant, with delicate feathery leaves of dark green growing in thick mats, and an abundance of flat-top composite flowers, typically white, but also available in many colours. It generally grows in a spreading low mound, with the flowers reaching to one metre.