Sunday, August 25, 2013

All of Yarrow - great details on Wildcrafting

The following is from
I loved it!!

YARROW Achillea spp.

Tools: anvil pruner, cotton string, collection buckets, baskets or bags.
Aerial parts of yarrow are harvested at least three different ways, each yielding a significantly different product.


In the late spring and early summer lush aromatic basal rosette leaves of yarrow are harvested singly and dried by laying in thin layers on flat racks, or the loose leaves are tied, butts together into 1/2-3/4" thick bunches and hung to dry inside at 70-80oF. Lush-leaved crowns may be cut off intact at ground level and hung individually inside upside down to dry; drying time may take up to two weeks. Store in airtight, opaque containers when dry. Basal leaves dried and powdered make an excellent styptic which is mildly antiseptic, analgesic, hemostatic and can be applied directly to open wounds, especially shallow scrapes.


Yarrow flower tops can be harvested at any stage after the stalked inflorescence has noticeably formed, until the floral petals turn gray, brown, or droop. I prefer a mix of equal amounts of unopened flower tops, yellow-staminate recently opened flower tops, and mature, pollinated flower tops plus some stalk leaves. Flower tops are hand-snapped quickly without pruners when flowers are closed or staminate. After pollination, the entire flowering top becomes woodier and can be grasped with the chelate hand and cut with an anvil pruner in the cutting hand into a basket, bucket or strong paper bag. Flowering tops are best gathered on cloudy cool days or before 9 AM on sunny days. Drying time for flowering tops is 5-10 days at 70-90°F, depending on the ambient humidity and the woodiness of the material being dried.


My teacher, Ella Birzneck, a famous Canadian herbal healer, insisted on using the entire aerial plant in most of her yarrow medicine, i.e. all of the basal leaves (discarding dead and damaged leaves) and all of the flowering stalk (leaves, stem and flowers). We cut the stems and leaves by hand into little pieces and dried them on flat racks. She worked healing miracles.
This harvest technique is hard on the plant as Yarrow spreads mostly by vegetative runners. Care should be taken therefore, to not disturb their shallow-rooted crowns. If you do, please kindly replant them. Yarrow reproduces sexually cleistogamously, so harvesting the bold terminal flowering tops will not eliminate successful seed production. If only the initial apical flowering tops are harvested, residual axillary floral buds lower on the flowering stalk will produce more flowers. When I harvest wild plants I leave an offering, usually a small crystal or some seaweed. I try to be ever mindful of exchanging gifts and giving thanks.


Yarrow stalks for divination are best snapped off at the ground at the full moon just after most flowers are pollinated. These flower stalks are hung tied together in bundles of 11,13,or 21, butts up, to dry, after first cutting off the flower tops. Dry inside at 80°F, 6-I4 days. After drying, gently strip leaves from stalks; store stems as fine medicine. These active-constituent-loaded will add clarity when used to consult the oracle (I Ching) due to palmar percutaneous perfusion of bioactive molecules.

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