by Phyllis O’Beollain, Dayton Small Pets Examiner
Yarrow is a perennial herb, native to Europe and Asia and found in most countries throughout the world. Yarrow is common along Dayton roadsides and in old fields, pastures, and meadows. Yarrow grows to 20 inches high, with finely cut leaf segments – very feathery and fern-like (see the photo).
Both the leaves and flowers of yarrow are edible and highly nutritious. Yarrow contains several different flavonoids with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-tumor and antioxidant properties; in fact, yarrow contains over 120 compounds with medicinal properties!
Yarrow is quite valuable in alternative medicine, and is used to treat colds, cramps, fevers, kidney disorders, upset stomachs, toothaches, skin irritations, hemorrhages, and as a general tonic. Crushed yarrow leaves promote blood clotting and were actually used as field dressings for wounded soldiers – we now know that an alkaloid substance in yarrow is responsible for the blood-clotting abilities.
Yarrow contains many volatile oils, including azulene, which acts as an anti-inflammatory to the digestive system; yarrow is helpful in case of indigestion and loss of appetite.
While yarrow is healthful and safe for small pets to eat, it is an herb that needs to be fed in some moderation. Huge amounts of yarrow may have a somewhat intoxicating effect on small pets, and with over 120 medicinal compounds, adding just one or two strands to your small pet’s salad is prudent. Another option would be to brew some yarrow tea, and offer a tablespoon of cooled tea to your small pet. Add 1 tsp. dried yarrow to 1 cup boiling water and steep for 10 minutes.
Yarrow is easily grown, thrives on neglect and tolerates poor soil. It likes well-drained soil in a sunny spot.