Thursday, July 11, 2013

Look Who's Talking

Hi there! Remember me? No? Well, what are you doing here then?

The other day I was visiting a herbalist friend at her labyrinth garden of herbs (Which I'll post about on the weekend.) and we got to talking about how plants appear to you in any given time.

Lately, in the past month or so,  plants have been a little domineering in my life. New ones appear out of the soil where they weren't planted, or I'm given house plants that have been in the family for three generations, as long as our workman's grandfather clock. One even came out from the crack of the sidewalk, a wholly unfamiliar, yet as it turns out, important and interesting and necessary.


We discussed about how the whole concept that plants used to "talk" to indigenous people doesn't seem so ridiculous once you enter the world of herbalism, or heck, even the woods in the back yard. Sure, they don't exactly scream your name out loud, but they do catch your attention in other ways. A weed that last week blended into the background green, might now stand defiantly in front of you at every step.

A plant that previously seemed unimportant will suddenly start appearing in your garden.

C. and I often talk about this when we go mushroom hunting. How the forest presents itself to you. How you can walk right past something, or see the smallest glimpse of it stand out from the undergrowth, and often it seems that this is not entirely up to you.

My friend also mentioned that she believes that everything you need grows wherever you are, a view that's not just esoteric, but also stands to reason if one is intent on using as much local medicine as possible. Instead of herbs from China and bought for dear dollars, dig through the weeds in your yard. Wise words from a wise woman.


Lately the plant that has "spoken" to me, is Yarrow, an herb of many many names and equally many uses. Yarrow is a decongestant, a wound cleaner and mender, reducer of bleeding in general, a small helper of many organs, prized in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine. It grows anywhere and everywhere, and I mostly ingest it in the form of an infusion, though I'm thinking about incorporating it in a salve too.

I'm still figuring out what I need to use her for exactly, but in the meantime have made sure I gather and learn more about her.

What's your plant/herb of the moment? Do you use yarrow for anything?

disclaimer: If you're planning to poison yourself by eating the wrong stuff, I'll be so sad, but I won't be held accountable. Okay? Good. You're a grown-up. Whee!


  1. Milla! I have been looking for the name of this very plant, and actually brought a small one home two days ago in the hope of finding out somehow. I had no idea it was Yarrow (in French Achilée Millefeuille) since the specimens I had previously seen of this were ten times bigger.

    So that's what it was: miniature yarrows not taller than a finger, growing unnoticed among wild thyme, and eventually growing twice as much and sporting a tiny umbrella of flowers. But the other summers, I had only noticed the thyme...

  2. I just did an herbal workshop at my local library today and talked about that very the plant calls to you. I think some people thought I was crazy, but others agreed. I find it very easy, in the physical sense, to harvest plants if they have called to me/looked appealing to me. If I harvest without thought or care (which is rare) it is more of a battle to get the plant.
    Yarrow is an amazing husband has a particular affinity for it. Good luck exploring its properties!
    I use it for nosebleeds, headaches, fevers, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, bruises, & swelling...and I'm sure there are more!

  3. I too love yarrow. The herb that's spoken to me a lot on recent walks is yerba buena. It's my current favorite plant friend. Will you elaborate more on the different uses of yarrow blossoms vs. the leaves? I've some idea, but I'd like to know more.

    1. Leaves and flowers for colds, coughs, indigestion, fever. Leaves for feminine healing (in moderation), externally as a skin wash for skin troubles, and to stop bleeding. Roots said to be a mild local anesthetic. Yarrow is most strongly associated with blood-related properties, most often in the capacity to minimize flow, but in European folklore it's thought healing after childbirth, specifically to build blood.

      The whole plant is also said to have magical powers and is used for divination, LOVE spells (both to attract love and to hold couples together), prophetic dreams (particularly love divination), promote courage and communicate with the spirit world.

      For starters.

  4. Siankärsämö-mistähän niinkin kaunis nimi? Käytän kyllä,esim.teenä ja lehtiä salaatissa,mutta viimeaikoina erityisesti nokkosta ja vadelmanlehtiä (sattuneesta syystä:-) )
    Nyt juuri erä kuivamassa teetarpeiksi.
    Lehmukset kukkivat kaupungissa ja niitä himoitsen,mutta saattavat kohta olla jo ohi.

  5. i started some native yarrow from seed this spring. she is still pretty petite and living on the windowsill above our kitchen sink until i deem her large and strong enough to get planted outside with the big kids. so far i only use to her wispy foliage to make me happy while doing dishes ;-)


  6. awww, this plant spoke so sweetly to my farmer friend mary that she named her son after it: yarrow. it is a beautiful word, plant, and healer. in my life i hope and plan to someday come close to the herbal knowledge that so many of my wonderful wisewomen friends possess. in the meantime i am an obsessive field guider, drifter among the whispering plants, observer. and they manage to "speak" to me in their unique ways all the same.

  7. Yarrow flower essence is used for energetic protection and support - believed to knit golden webs about your auric self. And it's growing strong in my garden. The stalks are used for divination in other cultures.

  8. Ahhh I've been studying Ayurveda for the past year and have only just gotten into studying plant spirit medicine! I loved reading this post. If you haven't already, you may enjoy Pam Montgomery's book, 'Plant Spirit Healing'.

    My plant of the moment is burdock, I see this guy everywhere and he's been helping clean my kidneys. Sadly I'm not currently harvesting my own, but purchasing the dried root from a local herbalist.

    Much love from the Canadian prairies,

  9. oh my! when i was in yosemite i took a picture of what i believe is yarrow. it was just too pretty! i didn't know what it was and now i do :) thanks!

  10. I only learnt about Yarrow (or rather how to identify it) our past Summer! After I assumed it was poisonous a teacher advised me otherwise....I've done a very quick run through your latest blog posts and want to read more but it is so sunny and Spring like outdoors I have to get out there and enjoy it before Winter slams down once more. love to you. And my favourite herb (to identify right now) is Plantain. x Teeny.

  11. plantain weed!! a few weeks back, as i whined about a throbbing and infected thumb, missa reminded me (and then gathered for me) a handful of the plantain weed. i chewed it up and stuck a wad of it on the wound, wrapping a leaf of it around the poultice to keep it worked wonders!... immediately the pain subsided and the swelling began to shrink. pretty cool.
    p.s. hello dear friend! missing you and thinking of you!!