The Herb Garden at the Pratt Museum
Here is a list of what we have in our herb garden and some information about each item.  This is a broad generalization of how these plants may have been used. Betsy Miller compiled this list in October 2000. 
Please don�t consider these as legitimate medicinal guidelines.
If a plant is listed without a detailed description, we are still doing research.  Please check back again ... we will update this page. 

Read more about our Herb Garden or return to our virtual museum tour.   

Visit Pratt Museum ... and our herb garden

Angelica - to ward off evil, relieve insomnia ...  Licorice Sage
Bee Balm - soothing coughs, sore throats, cramps ... Lovage - removes freckles, used in soups, sauces and stews ...
Borage - for courage, the relief of depression, and in salads ... Marjoram
Box Marjoram, Golden - used in stews and seasonings ... 
Broom - a toxic plant, slows down the heart, induced labor ... Mint - cure for indigestion .. also in cooking 
Calendula - to heal wounds, also much used in the kitchen ... Morning Glory
Clematis Mugwort - toxic, but may protect you against evil ... 
Comfrey - for healing wounds and dyeing wool ...  Nasturtium - in salads, sandwiches and pickles, today ...
Coral Bells Old Man�s Beard Fescue
Costmary - a lotion, and an ingredient in beer ... Pineapple Mint
Dianthus Primrose
Fescue Queen of the Meadow - source of black and green dyes
Feverfew - "a driver out of fevers", a cure for vertigo, arthritis ... Roman Wormwood - a toxic herb.  Try in in a Campari ...
Flax - for textiles, but also used in cooking and health remedy ... Rue - to relieve gas pain and colic, to improve appetite ...
Garlic - cure for worms, parasites, toothaches ... and in cooking ... Russian Sage
Germander - for rheumatism, asthma, bronchitis ... and a tonic ... Sage - culinary use in stuffings, meat and sausages ...
Hens and Chicks Salad Burnet - to stop bleeding ... also to pickle vegetables
Horehound - a medicinal plant, used teas and ales Silver Mound
Horse Radish - for aching backs and necks, now also in cooking ... Southernwood - an aphrodisiac, worming medicine, moth repellent ... 
Hyssop - "to improve a feeble stomach", also in Benedictine ...  Sweet Woodruf - a stomach soother
Lady's Mantle Tansy, Curly - cure freckles, sunburn, gout and pimples ...
Lamb's Ears - fuzzy  Tarragon - a toothache relief, and used in cooking ...
Lavender - a love potion, a scent in a sachet, even a digestif ... Thyme - cough medicine, a decongestant, also in Benedictine ... 
Lavender Cotton - used in tea, also as a scent ... Tiger Lily
Lemon Balm - teas, poultry stuffing, fish marinades ... Wormwood - toxic her, now in liqueurs ... 
Lemon Thyme Yarrow - medicinal, stops bleeding ... 

Angelica � Angelica Archangelica

If you are looking to ward off evil, this is the herb for you.  Make a necklace of the flowers and NEVER take it off.  You�ll be safe. 

Barring that, you can march into town in early Spring carrying armloads of the stuff and singing at the top of your lungs � like they did in Latvia in the Middle Ages.

Angelica is primarily used for the treatment of bronchial problems.  Native Americans used the leaves to create a tonic for the treatment of chest congestion.

Our own Colonel Pratt and his family turned to this herb to relieve insomnia, promote menstrual flow and induce abortions.  To help dimness of sight and deafness, the juice of angelica was poured into the ears.  Other uses included the treatment of nervous headaches, fevers, skin rashes, wounds, rheumatism and toothaches.

The stem of angelic can be eaten like asparagus.  The leaves can be brewed in tea.  And the root oil added to bath water. 

Bee Balm � Monarda didyma

Talk about local!   The Native Americans discovered bee balm in Otsego County, barely 50 miles Northwest of the Pratt Museum.  

While both Indians and whites drank its tea for medicinal purposes, its pleasing taste made Bee Balm the Patriots universal tea of choice during the Boston Tea embargo.

This plant gives off a lemony fragrance and flavor so it may come as no surprise that it was believed to be useful in soothing coughs and sore throats.  Other remedies were for cramps, flatulence and nausea.

Borage � Borago officinalis

The most significant historic use for Borage was to invoke courage (!!)  Soldiers as far back as ancient Rome considered it an essential part of their pre-battle imbibing.  However, the fact that it was a wine additive may have explained any fearlessness it engendered.

Borage was thought to relieve depression, fevers, bronchitis and diarrhea.  Poultices were used to be cooling and soothing.

Culinary uses for borage seem to outweigh its medicinal quality.  The leaves can be eaten raw in salads, or steamed or saut�ed � as one would prepare spinach.  Borage soup recipes, commonly served during the Pratts' time, are still in use today.

Box � Buxus sempervirens

Broom � Cytisus scoparius (Scotch broom)

The medicinal value of broom is questionable.  The extreme toxicity of the plant slows down the heart and stimulates uterine contractions.  Therefore, the flowering stem top was used to slow the pulse rate of heart disturbances as well as to induce labor.  Both treatments were eventually ceased because of the poisonous side effects.   Broom stalks were actually used to create crude brooms.

Calendula � Calendula officianalis (Pot marigold)

Named by the ancient Romans because the flower was in bloom on the first day of every month, Calendula�s first medicinal use was in the treatment of scorpion bites.  We doubt, however, if Zadock Pratt or his family had much call for such a use.

Later, Calendula came to be used most often in the kitchen.  Recipes included a spinach/Calendula mix, inclusion in a lark or sparrow stew, Calendula pudding, and Calendula wine.

Civil War soldiers used Calendula flowers to staunch bleeding and to heal wounds.


Comfrey � Symphytum officinale

The name Comfrey comes from the Latin conferta, meaning, �grow together�.  And, in ancient Rome, it was believed that comfrey contributed to the knitting together of broken bones.  Eventually, this characteristic was refuted.  However, poultices of comfrey are still used with wounds and bruises.  And, an affective ingredient, allantoin has been proven to �affect multiplication of cells and tissue growth.�

Wounds do heal faster when allantoin is applied.  And, even today, pharmacologists add allantoin to ointments and creams used to treat various skin problems.  The Colonel�s family would have macerated leaves of this plant to apply to wounds on both humans and animals, and created a poultice for use on insect bites, psoriasis and burns.  

When not used medicinally, the leaves produce a brown dye suitable for wool.

Pratt Museum's precious herb garden, tucked away and well looked after

Pratt Museum's precious herb garden, tucked away and well looked after

Lovage � Levisiticum officianale

Freckle-faced website visitors, rejoice.  The dry powder of the Lovage root was believed to remove freckles!

Other treatments include the aiding for digestion, and keeping one alert.  Lovage tea was used to cure rheumatism, jaundice, sore throat and kidney stones � all uses common during the Pratts� residence here.

Lovage�s similarity to celery makes it a natural culinary addition to soups, stews and sauces.  It also would have been included in pickling brines.

Marjoram � Origanum vulgare

Marjoram, Golden � Origanum omits

Medicinal properties for this herb are few.  However, it was believed to provide quite a few cures - among them asthma, indigestion, rheumatism, toothache, conjunctivitis and cancer.

By the 1850s, marjoram would have been used primarily for culinary purposes in stews, herb mixes, and as a seasoning with most meats and fish.

Ladies, if you want to be assured of a successful marriage, do as the French do: put springs of Marjoram in your hope chest.

Mint � Mentha

If you�re suffering from sea serpent stings, do as the Greeks did, chew mint.  If mad dog bites are your problem, rub a combination of crushed peppermint leaves and salt into the wound.  However, if your maladies are not quite so severe, perhaps indigestion, flatulence, or colic, mint may still be the answer.

Mint oil, made from an extraction of crushed mint leaves, mint tea from crushed, dried mint leaves, or mint milk (Yes.  I said milk.) created by warming milk with fresh or dried mint springs, were typical medicines used by Colonel Pratt, his family and neighbors.

Other benefits from mint include the relief of muscular spasms (primarily those of the stomach), and nausea.  It was also used to get rid of fleas � in this case by strewing leaves on floors throughout the house.

Mint has long been a symbol of hospitality.  Here�s why.  Two strangers were walking through Asia Minor and being snubbed by villagers.  Finally, two locals took pity upon them and prepared a feast in their honor.  Before setting the table, they wiped it down with fresh mint leaves.

PRESTO!  The strangers became Greek Gods.  The villagers were rewarded for their hospitality when the Gods changed their home into a temple.

Morning Glory � Convolvulus mauritanicus

Mugwort � Artemisia vulgaris (St. John�s Plant)

This herb is actually quite toxic and should not be used in teas or poultices.  However, if you are trying to protect yourself from evil possession, mugwort is for you.  Make a crown of the leaves and stems and wear it on St. John�s Eve (June 23rd), or, hang it from your porch ceiling during the time of the Chinese Dragon Festival (the fifth day of the fifth moon).

Nasturtium � Tropaeolum magus

We can thank the Spanish conquistadors for bringing this beautiful, brightly colored flower from Peru in the sixteenth century.

Its route to Prattsville was probably not so direct.  In fact, this beautiful plant, used today in salads, sandwiches and pickles, was most likely not a part of an 1850s herb garden.  We�ve taken a little license, here.  But who can blame us?  The flowers continue from June until frost and can be grown in either a viding variety or a low, compact form suitable for rocky areas.  Best of all, they hate rich soil � a rarity in this area.

Old Man�s Beard Fescue

Pineapple Mint � Mentha Suaveolens (Variegata)

Confine the roots of this plant as it spreads dramatically.

Primrose � Primula vulgaris

Queen of the Meadow (Meadow Sweet) � Filipendula ulmaria

This wonderful flowering herb was not used as a medicine.  Rather it is a source of two different colored dyes. The roots yield a black dye; the leaves and stems provide greenish yellow

Coral Bells � Heuchera Sanguinea 

Costmary � Balsamita major (Alecost)

Costmary was a welcome component to beer.  Our Colonel and his family surely took advantage of its spicy leaves in their brews.

Another traditional usage is as a bookmark.  These leaves and stems often found their way into the Bibles of churchgoers.  When eyelids became heavy during long sermons, congregation members could take a whiff of their bookmark, or even a little nibble, and be revived.  It is said that the effectiveness of a preacher could be determined by the amount of costmary found in the gardens of the local congregation.

An infusion of costmary leaves can be used as a skin lotion after cleansing with soap and water as it has both astringent and antiseptic qualities.

Dianthus � Dianthus caryophyllus (Clove pink or Carnation)


Feverfew � Chrysanthemum parthenium

Originally named as a �driver out of fevers�, this attribute went out of favor 600 years later, by medieval times.  More recently, in Colonel Pratt�s time, it became something of a miracle drug believed to cure opium overdose, toothache, infant colic, melancholia, vertigo, arthritis, kidney stones, constipation and shortness of breath.

In 1980, it was substantiated that Feverfew shared properties with aspiring and that many of the treatments for which it has been traditionally used were legitimate.  - among these, the alleviation of migraine headaches.  Today, sufferers eat three or four of the little leaves each day and find that they provide some relief.

The leaves and stems produce a greenish yellow dye in wool � a use that surely was used at the Zadock Pratt house.

Flax � Linum perenne � Perennial            Linum usitatissimum � Annual

Middle European gypsies believed that, if a child of 7 danced among flax flowers; he or she would grow up to be beautiful.   Earlier, Europeans wore flax sprigs as protection against sorcery.

By the early 1800s, flaxseed was used in poultices, and the oil (from ground or crushed seeds) was considered a remedy for colds, coughs, and irritations of the urinary tract.

Of course, the primary use for flax has been as a fiber suitable for weaving.  Colonel Pratt�s family would surely have used �linsey-woolsey� blankets, a combination of woven wool and flax quite common for the period.

The small amount of flax represented in his herb garden would have been utilized for medicinal or culinary purposes.  Field quantities of flax were necessary for fiber use.

Garlic � Allium Sativum

Most of us are familiar with the sweet/sharp tang of garlic, which we use today as a �highlight� in cooking.  In medieval times, it was eaten in large quantities as a vegetable.  Asians pickled whole bulbs. 

Folklore involving this bulb include the belief by Europeans that if a man chews garlic bulbs during a foot race, no one will be able to get ahead of him (!!).  Egyptian slaves chewed on garlic while they built the Pyramids.

In India, garlic was used to wash wounds.  During WWI, Americans dropped garlic juice on sterilized sphagnum moss and applied it to infected wounds.

In Prattsville, during the mid-1800s, garlic would have been used to cure worms and parasites in both people and animals, as a treatment for whooping cough, and to reduce clogging of the arteries (heart �agues�).  Other uses for this bulb included the cure for toothaches, snakebites, kidney and bladder troubles, and, of course, colds.

Germander � Teuchium scordomia (Wood Sage, Sage Leaved Germander)

Although Germander appears in Zadock Pratt�s herb garden, typically, it would have appeared in more formal American gardens of the 19th century.  It creates beautiful miniature �knots�, similar in style to the great English hedges of the 18th Century.  Aristocrats, presuming to English airs, would have tried to re-create these manorial estates � if only in miniature.

Germander leaves, when dried, created teas believed to cure gout and rheumatism.  It was also used as a digestive tonic and as a cure for asthma, quinsy (tonsillitis), jaundice and bronchitis.

Hens and Chicks � Sempervivum

Horehound � Marrubium vulgare

Named for the Egyptian god of sky and light, Horus, this herb was originally believed to cure the bite of mad dogs.  Later, it was believed to be able to break magic spells.

By the mid-1800s, horehound was used as an expectorant, a cough soother (horehound cough drops are still available today), and a purgative.

Interestingly, one of the prime components of horehound is tannin.  Our Zadock Pratt used this same tannin in his tanning process � although certainly horehound could never have been produced in the quantities he required to run his business (at one time, the largest in the world).

Horehound can be used in teas and ales, although it was and is primarily a medicinal plant.

Horse Radish � Armoracia Rusticana

While best know for its sharp taste, horseradish was almost exclusively used for medicinal purposed during Colonel Pratt�s time.  Not surprisingly, when ground and mixed with a bit of water, this root was used as a heat-generating poultice for aching backs and necks, and stiffness of any kind.

It also was used internally for kidney ailments when mixed with boiling water and mustard seed.  Syrup made of grated horseradish, honey and water is a standard remedy for hoarseness.

Not until 1861, later than the Pratts� heyday, is there any record of utilizing this herb for culinary purposes.

Hyssop � Hyssopus officinalis

Hyssop is strong, quoted as �a most violent purgative�.  Its strength is not only medicinal, but aural as well.  Early references to the plant date from the seventh century, when it was strewn about the floors of sickrooms and used to improve the smell of kitchens.

Its strong medicinal odor is also apparent in two liquors: Benedictine and Chartreuse.

Hyssop tea was thought to cure bronchitis as well as �improve the tone of a feeble stomach�.  And, as both a tincture and a tea, hyssop leaves were used to reduce perspiration and to cure jaundice.

It is possible that local usage may have included liquors, too.

Lady�s Mantle � Alchemilla vulgaris

Lamb�s Ears � Stachys byzantia

Lavender � Lavendula vera

The Latin derivative for the word �to wash�, lavender was used by Romans in soaps and bath water.  Around the same time, it was used for embalming.  By the Middle Ages, its purpose had metamorphosed to that of a love potion.  It could work to promote romance, or, when lavender water was shaken on the top of one�s head, it worked to keep one chaste.  Later still (WWI) lavender was used as a disinfectant for wounds.

Folklore says that the asp made his nest in lavender plants.  And that the use of lavender oil could tame lions and tigers.  (Don�t try this at home!)

Even in 1850, lavender was primarily valued for its scent.  It was included in bath water, as sachets, and as perfumes.

Some medicinal use may have come in the form of tea, used as a digestif.

Lavender Cotton � Santolina chamaecyparissus

In the Mediterranean region, where lavender cotton originated, it was used medicinally as a �De-wormer� and an astringent (as tea).

By the time it was imported to the United States, and during Colonel Pratt's stay in New York, it was primarily known for its use in knot gardens.  Its silvery leaves, density and aroma add to its desirability.

Lemon Balm � Melissa officinalis

This plant is well named.  By rubbing leaves between your fingers, you will carry the strong smell of lemon with you for some time.  Beware, though.  Bees love that smell!

This herb is often used for its soothing, drug-like properties.  A quote from the 17th Century says that lemon balm �Causeth the mind and heart to become merry�and driveth away all troublesome cares and thoughts.�  Certainly a feeling the hard-working pioneers of America would seek out.

Lemon balm tea, while culinary in form, seemed to promote this good feeling and would have been used in Mrs. Pratt�s kitchen.  Fresh and dried leaves were also used in poultry stuffing and in marinades for fish.

Lemon Thyme � Thymus x citriodorus

Licorice Sage � Salvia

Garden as laid out in Zadock Pratt's days, now restored



Roman Wormwood � Artemisia pontica

The wormwood we will be discussing here is Artemisia Absinthium, a different varietal than that currently included in the Zadock Pratt garden.  This is an extremely toxic herb � considered dangerous by herbologists.  So be careful if you re considering using it for medicinal purposes.

The first mention of wormwood was on Egyptian papyrus from 1600 BC It was used for de-worming even in that record.  Through the 1800s, it was commonly served in a foul-smelling tea for precisely that purpose.

Another usage, common from as early as the 17th Century, was the liqueur, absinthe.  This drink could become addictive, and caused extreme reactions among its enthusiasts.  It is believed that van Gogh was �strung out� on absinthe when he cut off his ear.  In 1892, American Medicinal Plants described the effects on absinthe drinkers this way:

�Derangement of the digestive organs, intense thirst, restlessness, vertigo, tingling in the ears, illusions of sight and hearing� loss of muscular power, delirium, loss of intellect� and death.�

This liqueur may have been available in the Pratt home.  Early descriptions include this one: �One of the favorite drinks for those who love stimulating beverages.�   Should you crave the taste of wormwood on your 21st Century palate, taste vermouth or Campari.  Or ask for an Absinthe cocktail: vodka, wormwood, anise, fennel seed, cardamom pods, coriander and angelica root.  Salut.

Rue � Ruta graveolens (Herb of Grace)

Early users of rue hoped for help with vision problems.  Other medicinal uses included the correction of irregular menstruation, the easement of menopause symptoms, and the inducement of abortion.  Epilepsy was addressed by wearing a bouquet of the herb around the neck.

Rue also helped ward off witches and the plague.  And, the leaves of this herb were sprinkled in the courtrooms during the 17th Century.

During the 1800s, Prattsville residents would have used rue to relieve gas pains and colic, and to improve appetite and digestion.

No description of rue would be complete without mentioning that its leaves are the basis for the shape found on the �club� playing card.

Russian Sage � Perovskia atriplicifolia

Sage � Salvia officinalis (Garden Sage)

Sage has been associated with immortality and longevity since before the age of Christ.  In China, it was so prized as tea that they willingly traded their green tea for its dried leaves at a 4 to 1 ratio.

In addition to curing snakebites, sage was used to dry up perspiration, act as an astringent, cure warts measles and epilepsy, and as a treatment for sore throats, mouth irritation, cuts and bruises.  Contemporary research indicates that it lowers blood sugar in diabetes.

During Colonel Pratt�s time, most of the uses for sage would have been culinary.  It�s inclusion in stuffings, meat dishes and sausage was common.

While it is said to repel insects, it is also known to attract bees, so, think twice before rubbing the leaves on your skin.

Please step carefully and enjoy each plant

Salad Burnet � Sanguisorba minor

When first used, salad burnet was said to stop bleeding.  It was believed that it �puckered� the skin thus reducing the size of a wound.  The Shakers mentioned it in 1820 for just this purpose.

During the plague, salad burnet was considered to be quite literally, a lifesaver.

Thomas Jefferson hired two young boys to gather 6 � 8 bushels of burnet seed � in order to plant acreage as livestock feed. � A big job.

Colonel Pratt�s family probably included salad burnet in pickling spices, vinegars and marinades.  It did not dry well, so mostly, it was utilized for its seed.

Silver Mound � Artemisia Schmidtiana

Southernwood � Artemisia Abrotanum

Once considered an aphrodisiac, southernwood not only stimulated a young man�s passion, it was also believed to stimulate hair growth.  Teenagers would try to mature more quickly by rubbing the lemon-scented leaves on their faces.

Nosegays of the leaves were also hung in courtrooms to discourage something called �prison fever�.  And in church to discourage something called �nodding off�.

Primarily grown as an attractive ornamental, southernwood did have a reputation as a diuretic, antiseptic, a worming medicine and a moth repellent.

Sweet Woodruff � Galium odoratum

Because of its lively growth spurts in early spring, this herb was traditionally included in May wine and became a required herb for spring festivities.

Medicinally, Sweet Woodruff was used as a calmative, diuretic and as a stomach soother.  Its leaves were also applied to wounds.

A tea of dried leaves was administered, perhaps in this house, to combat jaundice and nervousness and to regulate the activity of the heart.  Aromatic nosegays might have appeared tucked in drawers and trunks.

Tansy, Curly � Tanacetum vulgare

BEWARE TANSY!  Large amounts can cause violent reactions and death.  Originally believed to confer immortality, Tansy later was put in coffins to repel insects � from one extreme to the other.

A miracle plant variously believed to cure freckles, sunburn, gout and pimples, prevent miscarriages, and rid oneself of worms. 

Any one of the five Mrs. Pratts may have followed a prescription in which tansy was steeped in buttermilk for nine days then applied to the face in order to promote whitening.

They may also have made certain that tansy leaves were strewn on the floors of various rooms in order to give off a pleasant aroma when trod upon.  (King James II had a royal herb strewer.)

Tansy leaves may have been included in small cakes and puddings in the Prattsville house � especially around Easter.  (A �bitter� herb reference from the Bible may be the source for this tradition.)

Colonial cooks rubbed tansy into their tabletops to discourage bugs. Here is a recipe from the 17th Century for you to try.

Brown tansy leaves along with other herbs and spinach, green corn, violets, and primrose leaves, then serve hot with a dressing of orange juice and sugar.   If you don�t like that one, Izaak Walton, a seventeenth century angler recommends using tansy with cooked minnows.

Tarragon � Artemesia Dracunculus

A folkloric attribute of this herb is its ability to inhibit fatigue.  Pilgrims of the Middle Ages, embarking on their trips to the Holy Land, put tarragon in their shoes.  And, because of its snake-like root system, it developed a reputation as snakebite medicine.

When a leaf of tarragon is chewed, it has a numbing effect on the tongue.  This has led to its use in inhibiting toothaches � a logical jump.  It was also thought to cure rheumatism, relieve flatulence and stimulate the appetite.

At one time this herb was restricted to the gardens of European nobility � not available to the commoner.

By the time it arrived in Prattsville, it would have been used primarily with meats and fish, in culinary applications rather than medicinally.

Thyme � Thymus vulgaris

The most charming folklore surrounding this versatile herb is this:  The Greeks included a patch of thyme in every garden as a bed for fairies to sleep in.

Non-fairies could sleep on a pillow of dried thyme to relieve epilepsy and melancholy.  During the plagues, thyme was worn around the neck, and during World War I, thyme oil was used as an antiseptic.

Nightmares were said to respond to thyme tea.  Colonel Pratt and his family would have used thyme in cough medicine, as a digestive, and a decongestant.  Made into a poultice, it would have soothed and healed sores and bruises.  Thyme is a flavoring in Benedictine liqueur.

Tiger Lily � Hemereocallis fulva

Wormwood � Artemisia absinthium �

The wormwood we will be discussing here is Artemisia Absinthium, a different varietal than that currently included in the Zadock Pratt garden.

This is an extremely toxic herb � considered dangerous by herbologists.  So be careful if you are considering using it for medicinal purposes.  The first mention of wormwood was on Egyptian papyrus from 1600 BC.  It was used for de-worming even in that record.  Through the 800s it was commonly served in a foul-smelling tea for precisely that purpose.

Another use, common from as early as the 17th Century, was the liqueur, absinthe.  This drink could become addictive, and caused extreme reactions among its enthusiasts.  It is believed that van Gogh was �strung out� on absinthe when he cut off his ear.  In 1892, American Medicinal Plants described the effects on absinthe drinkers this way:

�Derangement of the digestive organs, intense thirst, restlessness, vertigo, tingling in the ears, illusions of sight and hearing�loss of muscular, power, delirium, loss of intellect� and death.�

This liqueur may have been available in the Pratt home.  Early descriptions include this one: �One of the favorite drinks for those who love stimulating beverages.�  Should you crave the taste of wormwood on your 21st Century palate, taste vermouth or Campari.  Or ask for an Absinthe cocktail:  vodka, wormwood, anise, fennel seed, cardamom pods, coriander and angelica root.

Yarrow � Achillea Millefolium

Fossils of yarrow pollen have been identified in Neanderthal burial caves, suggesting a relationship with humanity for more that 60,000 years.  THAT�S tradition!

More recently, say, three thousand years before Christ, the I Ching, a Chinese method of answering questions, was done by casting 50 dried yarrow stalks.  Fast forward to the Trojan War and you�ll find Achilles using yarrow to staunch wounds.  (This may have been the source of the name, Achillea.)

Yarrow remained in the doctor�s medicine bag for over 5,000 years.  It was still in use to stop bleeding during America�s Civil War.  (Colonel Pratt�s son, George, may have had comrades-in-arms whose lives were saved by this method.)

Unless otherwise noted, this information comes from Rodale�s Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs, Copyright 1987. Rodale Press, Inc.  ISBN #0-87857-699.1. and is annotated by Betsy Miller   Betsy is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Country Living Magazine, Gardener and Antiques Extra.  She lives in the Catskills and spends much of her time harvesting and drying herbs from her own garden.

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Updated on:
21 February, 2019

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