Posts in Eat your weeds
Materia medica :: yarrow :: achillea millefolium
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Yarrow is one of those plants that is very near and dear to my heart.  Ask any plant nerd and I'm sure they will tell you the same.  There is an magical quality to this sweet flower that enchants, comforts and inspires me.  Whenever I spy it on the side of the road after the last snow melts, I am immediately overwhelmed with a sense of wonder and excitement for all that is to come: uninterrupted jaunts through the woods, eyes constantly searching the ground for new blooms;  kitchen counters and dashboards of cars, covered with flowers and plants to make into new medicine; pestos, oils and teas made with fresh, wild herbs.  

A sturdy little friend, yarrow is a plant for battle.  The Greek hero, Achilles, was said to be fully immersed in an infusion of yarrow as a babe.  The only spot left untouched being the ankle his mother, the sea goddess Thetis, held him by as she dipped Achilles into the brew.  Achilles and his yarrow skin, went on to become a great warrior but met his end during the Trojan war when Paris, son of the king and queen of Troy, shot a poisoned arrow into his heal, Achilles' only vulnerable spot.  Henceforth creating the name Achilles Heal and giving yarrow its true name, Achillea millefolium.  

Energetically, yarrow is a protector.  I often carry it with me during times of emotional vulnerability or areas and events I anticipate will be packed with people.  Physically, yarrow is considered to be a valuable digestive aid and helps ward off early stages of cold and flu. Yarrow is also rich in essential oils that are antiseptic and carry tannins, which are astringent, making it a powerful first aid remedy in healing wounds and decreasing blood flow.  I have been witness to numerous occasions where yarrow was applied to a wound and successfully slowed blood flow.  It is useful to keep in your herbal first aid kit as a salve (for wounds), tinctured or dried for tea.  

For female bodied folk, yarrow can be of great assistance during menstruation.  Yarrow can relieve cramps, slow excess menstrual bleeding and in some cases, can return a delayed or absent cycle.  

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Whether it be your fearless protector or digestive tract defender, yarrow is a herb that is easy for most to access and use with success.  I have found it growing on sidewalks, seasides, pathways and roadside shoulders.  As I suggest with any new to you plant, take your time with it and get to know it as you would a new friend or lover.  Every body can have a different reaction to a plant and it's important to know how it will affect you as an individual.

 

Achillea millefolium

With my fineries
you've given me
a flock of feathered wings
so finally -
I am kin of the sea
My stalk so heavily
combines with the malady
your blood without me
turns to soil
only brinks so tenderly
up a nostril
your flood will harshly start to boil
and turn a healthy
       
Wait

             I Wait

- along the pathsides
and the sides of human nature
that detests to smell me
Among a thousand weeds you shall find me
Albeit a Houndstooth upon melancholy
I have a finger
Upon Beauty
Upon the delicacy of a lace driven Majesty
     that is how my Mane is mantled

- S.L.R.M. -

*This post is meant to inspire and not treat.  Please consult your herbalist or primary physician before beginning a new herbal routine*

Dandelion ginger jelly
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To me, there is nothing sweeter than spotting the first dandelion of spring. That cheery little golden face peeking through the blades of grass or a sidewalk crack causes me to break into a slight giggle and my mind begins to wander back to childhood stories. Books and rhymes that carried me through summer days, building tiny houses in every nook and cranny I could declare suitable for fairies or school yard countdowns to those two cherished months of vacation. There is a spirit so unique to the dandelion that is hard for me to pass up.

These days I primarily turn to dandelion root and leaves to aid poor digestion or to support the liver when I feel it's needed . Spring is all about cleansing and adjusting your eating patterns to match the new growth of fruits, vegetables and herbs.  I like to think that dandelion chooses its blooming time to remind us of this every spring and help make our transition a bit easier.

While I can't speak for the medicinal qualities of this jelly (sugar is sugar after all), I will say that the energetics are superb.  It carries a powerful sense of whimsy, a taste of rich honey and a nod to the spiced bite of ginger.  Slather on fresh baked scones or pair with a thickly cut piece of toasted sourdough with goat cheese.

 

2 cups fresh dandelion blossoms

1 cup fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

4 cups water  

4 cups sugar  

2 tablespoons lemon juice  

1.75 ounces (1 box) pectin

 

Remove the blossoms from green sepals as they are bitter and will affect the sweetness of the jelly; it's ok if there is a bit of green in the mix however.  Prepare ginger and place in medium sized pot with 1 cup of dandelions and bring to boil.  Lessen heat, add remaining flowers and steep for 10-15 minutes.  Strain and measure remaining liquid into 3 cups.  Pour back into your pot and combine, sugar, lemon juice and pectin.  Bring to a boil and let bubble for about 2- 3 minutes. Remove from heat, skim foam off surface and pour into sterilized jars, leaving about 1/4 of an inch of air space.  Let liquid cool before sealing and place in fridge to set.

Don't be discouraged if your jelly doesn't set right away.  It can take up to 3 days for a jelly to shape and you can always heat it up again and add more pectin.  Will keep up to a month in the fridge or one year if processed with the traditional canning method

Makes 3 cups

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Inspired by Cider Beans, Wild Greens And Dandelion Jelly by Joan E. Aller.