Later flowering, the feathery leaves
Modest among the petals of Spring
Are soon topped with white bunches, tinged
Perhaps with pink or purple
Gracing the green with a look of old lace.
Yarrow is a plant reputed to have healing properties. Its generic name Achillea derives from Apuleius Platonius and from Dioscorides who both claimed that Achilles used it to heal wounds caused by iron weapons. Similarly the Anglo-Saxons (who gave it the name gearwe) recommended that it should be pounded with grease and applied to wounds whence it “purgeth and healeth” them(*).
In Scottish Gaelic folklore it was held to help young women maintain their beauty:
“I will pick the smooth yarrow that my figure may be more elegant…”
but also for protection:
“I shall wound every man, no man shall wound me”. (**)
Geoffrey Grigson An Englishman’s Flora (1958)
(*) O Cockayne Leechdoms, Wortcunning and Starcraft of Old England (1864-1866)
(**) Kenneth Jackson (translator) A Celtic Miscellany (1951)