Friday, July 22, 2011
The Many Types of Chamomile
A little while back I posted on wild chamomile (pineapple weed) and the many uses of this plant. When I was researching it, I found that it went by several names including, pineapple weed, wild chamomile, chamomile and scentless chamomile. This post is to set the identification record straight:
The flowers of this plant are tiny, yellow-ish-green disks that lack any white, ray petals. When crushed, pineapple weed smells strongly of pineapple. This variety is also referred to as wild chamomile or disk mayweed. You will find this growing in rocky, gravelly or disturbed soil and it is native to North America. I have found that extract of pineapple weed works to repel cutworms.
This plant has small daisy-like heads, which are found singly at the ends of branches. Each head has tiny yellow disk flowers in the center surrounded by flat, white ray florets. Scentless chamomile is often confused with ox-eye daisy or stinking mayweed, however, both have an unpleasant odor, where as scentless chamomile has none. Scentless chamomile was brought over as a garden flower from Europe during the 1930s. I have found scentless chamomile growing in amongst other prairie flowers, and not necessarily in rocky soil.
Chamomile, also know as German chamomile, is what I have seeded in my garden. The other two varieties are considered noxious weeds. The name chamomile is of Greek origin and the word means 'earth apple' because of its apple-like scent. Chamomile flowers take the shape of a badminton shuttlecock, with the petals pointing downwards.
There are other varieties of chamomile not mentioned here, including a yellow chamomile found in the Mediterranean and western Asia that is quite pretty. As far as I know, all of the above varieties of chamomile are edible - I have consumed two out of three so far with no ill effects. Happy gathering!
Prairie Beauty, by Neil L Jennings
Weeds of the Prairies, Olds College Alberta
Linked to Simple Lives Thursday, Crunchy Betty, Monday Mania, Weekend Gourmet, Real Food Wednesday.