The Herbs, Roots, and Bark Library

Herbs beginning with the letter Y

Yarrow with a 'visitor' Butterfly a close up of the flowers
Yarrow (Achillea species, also called Woundwort, Carpenter's Weed, Plumajillo, Bloodwort, Sanguinary, Hierba de las Cortaduras, Stanchgrass, Thousand-leaf, Devil's Plaything, Gordoloba, Green Arrow, Allheal, Dog Daisy, Old-Man's-Pepper, Cammock, Nosebleed, Knight's Milfoil, and Yarroway....ya think it has enough nicknames? *grin*) is reportedly named after the hero Achilles, in Homer's "Iliad", who is said to have given Yarrow to his soldiers, after the siege of Troy, to stanch the blood from their wounds. It is a "life medicine" of the Navajo Natives in America. During the Civil War, it was widely used to treat wounds and became known as "soldier's woundwort". This herb has been used since ancient man (it was found in the Neanderthal grave of a Shanidar IV individual in Iraq). Oddly, this is a member of the Sunflower family. (each tiny flower resembles a daisy) There are over 85 species of Achillea.

Magickal Uses:

Ruled by Venus, Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a divination and visionary herb. Use Yarrow to assist in dispelling melancholy, and cleansing one of negative energy, lingering sorrow, or depression. According to "The Master Book of Herbalism", it is said that "The most prized Yarrow is that which grows upon the burial site of Confucius". In China, Yarrow stalks are used the I Ching. Modern lore recommends waiting for the first Yarrow bloom and using it to make a wish which should manifest prior to the harvest. The flowers are often included in rituals of union and are considered sacred to the Horned God.

Medicinal and Other Uses:

Ok, I'm going to get technical here, but I think it will help unbelievers, I quote the following publication: "Novel antitumor sesquiterpenoids in Achillea millefolium" by Tozyo T, Yoshimura Y, Sakurai K, Uchida N, Takeda Y, Nakai H, Ishii H. (Shionogi Research Laboratories, Shionogi & Co., Ltd., Osaka, Japan) "Three new antitumor sesquiterpenoids, achimillic acids A, B and C, were isolated as methyl esters from Achillea millefolium and their structures were determined spectroscopically. The compounds were found to be active against mouse P-388 leukemia cells in vivo. Need a translator? I didn't need a dictionary to tell me what "anti tumor" or "Leukemia" meant, and this documented scientific publication states Yarrow to be "active against" the aforementioned. Another study (don't run..I'm not going to quote proves that Yarrow Oil is effective against gram positive and gram negative bacteria, and Candida. What power for such a plain little plant. :) Use Yarrow as an antibacterial mouthwash. It is used to help tonsillitis, alopecia, amenorrhea, bronchi and lung diseases, dermatitis, ear affections, epistaxis, hair affections (Yarrow oil has been traditionally used in hair shampoos), hemorrhoids, nervous diseases, throat diseases, and ulcers. Yarrow is used as an anticolic, antihysteric, antinephritic, antidontalgic, antirheumatic, antispasmodic, aperitive, astringent, carminative, diaphoretic, diruetic, emmenagogue, haemaostatic, sternutatory, stimulant, styptic, tonic, and aromatic vulnerary. (When cut fresh as a bouquet and kept in water, Yarrow scents the air with an aromatic spiciness) **WC** Caution: a few people have allergic reactions to Yarrow, also, large or frequent doses taken over a long period may cause the skin to be more sensitive to sunlight. **GT** Yarrow makes a good companion planting, it helps plants growing nearby by enhancing their essential oil content thus, making them more resistant to insect predations, and it also improves the soil fertility.

Yew Grows in a Branching Sprawl A Close Up of the Needles and Berries
Yew (Taxus Baccata, also called English Yew) is an ancient plant. Yew is one of the sacred trees of the British Isles. Some living Yews dated to be aged 2000 years or more occur in the British Isles. An age of 4000 years has been attributed, without much basis, to the Tisbury Yew in Wiltshire and the Crowhurst Yew in Surrey, both in England. The oldest known wooden implement is a spear made of Yew wood, about 50,000 years old, from Clacton-on-Sea, England. Archeological excavations have found Yew bows and knives in Swiss lake dwellings from 10,000 years ago. The Greeks wove funeral wreaths from Yew in honor of Hecate, whose dominion was death. The Celts used it's wood for votive and funerary artifacts, and planted it in their holiest shrines. Robin Hood used a bow of Yew to win the Maid Marion, to whom he was betrothed under the branches of a Yew. At his death, he was buried beneath a Yew. Yew is named from the Greek "Toxus", reflective of "Toxon" meaning bow, and "Toxikon" meaning poison; a Yew extract was used as an arrow poison. The foliage and seeds of the Yew contain highly poisonous alkaloids that can act to stop the heart of an animal so suddenly that no symptoms are seen; the animal simply drops dead.

Magickal Uses: A Close Up of the Unusual Berry
Yew is a sacred herb ruled by Saturn. Its invocatory can be Hecate or Mercury. One of the sacred trees of the British Isles, the Yew is associated with Idho, the letter I in the tree alphabet. In "A Modern Herbal" Grieve writes: "No tree is more associated with the history and legends of Great Britain than the Yew. Before Christianity was introduced it was a sacred tree favoured by the Druids, who built their temples near these trees - a custom followed by the early Christians. The association of the tree with places of worship still prevails". In "The White Goddess" Graves describes this evergreen as "the death tree in all European countries, sacred to Hecate in Greece and Italy. At Rome, when black bulls were sacrificed to Hecate...they were wreathed in Yew." Yew is an excellent tree to plant at outdoor ritual sites to provide their natural energy to all sacred events. The needles can be gathered, dried, and powdered for incense. Some use the Yew to enhance psychic ability. The Yew was an important tree to the Winter Solstice for the Celts.

Medicinal and Other Uses:

Yews are poisonous, so please don't "self medicate". The anti-cancer agent "taxol" is extracted from the Pacific Yew, which is now an endangered species. Bristol-Myers-Squibb presently holds the patent on "Taxol", (thanks to the National Cancer Institute). They presently make a semi-synthetic version of Taxol, made in part from the needles and twigs of Taxus Baccata Wallichiana, the Himalayan Yew. Unfortunately, it costs more than $10,000 a year to treat a patient with their formulation. Now heres the really sad part: this chemical was discovered as an anti-cancer agent back in 1966!!! Monroe Wall, a chemist from North Carolina, is credited with the discovery, but when he tried to get the good old National Cancer Institute interested in his discovery, they turned him down flat. ARGGG, mother died of cancer, so I tend to get emotional regarding medicine and corporations, greed, et al. The same chemical which is effective against cancer also treats the Herpes Simplex Virus. **GT** The Yew has an extraordinarily high resistance to urban air pollution, and most of the species are used as ornamental plantings.

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A Compendium of Herbal Magick by Paul Beyerl

A Modern Herbal by Maud Grieve (Vol 1 & 2)

Magickal Herbalism by Scott Cunningham

Edible Wild Plants by Thomas S. Elias & Peter A. Dykeman

Indian Herbalogy by Alma R. Hutchens

Sacred Plant Medicine by Stephen Harrod Buhner

Coyote Medicine by Lewis Mehl-Madrona, M.D.

Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants by "Wildman" Steve Brill

The Complete Illustrated Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman

The Complete Medicinal Herbal by Penelope Ody

Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham

Magic and Medicine of Plants by Inge N. Dobelis

Information given on this site is not intended to be taken as a replacement for medical advice. Any person with a condition requiring medical attention should consult a medical doctor. This information is given as reference only.