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GOING WILD WITH NATIVES: Yarrow - The 2024 Herb Of The Year™

By Karen England, for Let's Talk Plants! January 2024. Excerpted from Karen's contributions to the International Herb Association's Yarrow 2024 Herb of the Yearbook and newsletter and The San Diego Floral Association's California Garden Magazine Volume 115 No. 1.

Photo and graphic credit: Karen England. Yarrow growing in Fullerton, CA.

So far, of the twenty-nine Herb of the Year™ honorees that the International Herb Association has chosen to date, the 2024 Herb of the Year™ Yarrow, Achillea millefolium, is the first San Diego, California native plant recipient.

We should have a party!

WiX stock photo. Our party, if we were to have one, will be sure to have compostable confetti...

This is not to ignore the fact that Rosa spp., HOY 2012, Rubus spp., HOY 2020, and Salvia spp., HOY 2001, and most likely other herb species recipients as well, all boast San Diego and/or California native varieties in their family trees such as Rosa californica, Rubus ursinus, and Salvia clevelandii, but instead is meant to point out just how special it is that a native herb is this year’s Herb of the Year™.

  • What is an herb? An herb is a useful plant; useful for cooking, crafting/decoration and medicine.

  • How does an herb qualify to be considered as an Herb of the Year™? A HOY nominee must be an herb useful in at least two of the three categories of use.

  • What makes Yarrow an herb? It is useful in all three categories. It is culinary, decorative, and medicinal.

  • Are you growing yarrow? I bet you are. Did you know it was an herb? I’m guessing many of you did not.

  • Did you plant seeds or starts? Plants are available wherever plants are sold. Yarrow seeds for sale are available from the California Native Plant Society – San Diego Chapter website Achillea millefolium (Common Yarrow) | California Native Seeds from CNPS-SD (

Read Karen's full article which includes Yarrow recipes in the

current Issue of California Garden

January/February 2023 Volume 115 No. 1

Or become a SDFA member now and get each issue. Join Now!


Did You Know? You Can Paint the Town Yarrow!

(Yarrow Drive, in Carlsbad, California, is just two blocks long and devoid of any visible yarrow plants growing along its short way. If roadside landscaping is any indication, the street would have been better named Agapanthus. Photo credit: Karen England.)

I spent much of 2023 doing research for my contribution to the upcoming Herb of the Year™ book on Yarrow. In that time, I was so disappointed to realize that the poet William Wordsworth’s series of three Yarrow poems, "Yarrow Unvisited" (1803), "Yarrow Visited" (1814) and "Yarrow Revisited" (1831) were not about the herb plant. Call me crushed. The poems are about a river named Yarrow, in Lancashire, England. But that’s not the only river Yarrow, there’s also one in Selkirkshire, Scotland. Who knew? Not me.

(Look at all the likes [4,280!] that this Instagram post by @mellowpokes has for her Yarrow sprig tattoo! Search the hashtag #yarrowtattoo if you want to see dozens of yarrow tattoo design ideas! Who’s getting a Yarrow tattoo in 2024?)

That discovery, thanks to Google, led me to find a whole raft of other non-herbal yarrows (none of which was I looking for...) In addition to rivers - there are roads, towns (real and fictional), people (with both the first and last name of Yarrow), pets, tattoos, and more.

But, in my opinion, the greatest non-herbal yarrow thing that I’ve found is that Benjamin Moore, Sherwin-Williams, as well as other paint manufacturers, all have a yellow paint named “Yarrow” for sale.

And, although this color has never yet been named Pantone’s® Color of the Year, (the 2023 color was Viva Magenta if you are wondering…) Who knows? Yarrow or even Pink Yarrow might still be picked as the 2024 Color of the Year. Stranger things have happened. If this synchronicity does happen, I am repainting my front door in 2024 with Yarrow! (But, for the record I’m not getting a tattoo.)

(For comparison – Actual yarrow blooms and their equivalent Pantone colors. Pretty spot on, don’t you think?)


The IHA's new Yarrow book, complete with Karen's contribution, will be for sale very soon on Karen's website


And speaking of yarrow...

... Remember this LTP! My Life with Plants post from Jim Bishop? Chocolate Cake and a Vase of Yarrow -


Karen's yarrow research in 2023 involved failed attempts at dried yarrow crafts such as making "hair sticks" out of long stems. What are hair sticks? "A hair stick is a straight, pointed device, usually between five and nine inches in length, used to hold a person's hair in place in a hair bun or similar hairstyle." Turns out that even the straightest and seemingly smoothest of dried yarrow stems have many burrs (?) along them (I call them burrs for lack of a better name for them) that get hopelessly caught in the hair. Here's my best attempt (and last) at holding my hair in a bun with yarrow hair sticks.

Karen England is first and foremost president and newsletter editor for the San Diego Horticultural Society, but she is also on the board of the International Herb Association and a member-at large West District delegate of the Herb Society of America.



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