Chamomile is a lovely plant for a garden. It has a soft vanilla fragrance, interesting leather-like leaves, and adds a nice, bright element to the colors of the garden with its small white and yellow daisy-like flowers.
Chamomile, that is native to the United States, is also known as Pineapple Weed or Wild Chamomile. Its Latin name is matricaria discoidea. It has been used for centuries by Egyptians, Romans, and Anglo-Saxons in a tea, tincture, or salve to cure stomach aches, skin irritations, menstrual cramps, and many other ailments. Sometimes this plant is confused with Feverfew (tanacetum parthenium) as the flowers look similar and they both help thwart headaches.
Chamomile’s medicinal qualities and its hardy nature also appear in many historical works of literature. Peter Rabbit’s mother gives him chamomile tea to cure his belly ache after he’s eaten too much food in Mr. McGregor’s garden as written in Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
In Shakepeare’s King Henry IV (part one, act 2, scene 4) Prince Henry is told:
For though the chamomile, the more it is trodden on, the faster it grows, yet youth, the more it is wasted, the sooner it wears.
Good to note that chamomile is an excellent plant to place along the edge of pathways due to its durability. Stepping upon it will release its soft vanilla fragrance with every footfall.
Chamomile easily propagates by seed.
Once planted and left to go to seed, those seeds will germinate in the earth and pop up the next spring. Plant chamomile where it is warm and sunny as it prefers sunny areas and well-drained soil.
To save chamomile for drying in use for tinctures, salves, and teas, it is best to clip the flowers the day they open up all the way. They dry easily in brown paper bags and this is the best way to preserve the plant. Add with other herbs in teas, enjoy it by itself, or add it to potpourri for a pleasant smell in the bedroom, kitchen, laundry, or bath.
Chamomile’s vanilla-like scent and unique look will add years of enjoyment in a native perennial garden. Enjoy its beauty while you sip on some calming, chamomile tea!