Chamomile – Chamaemelum nobile (pictured) / Matricaria recutita
Chamomile has a rich, ancient tradition of use, and while usually cultivated in a garden, it also often escapes and can be found growing wild throughout North America, Europe, and many other countries. Usually found in grassy spaces and pastures, look for the sunny, apple-like scented blossoms from early summer until frost. Roman and German Chamomile are used quite similarly, but the plants themselves have a few key differences.
Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) is a hardy perennial with a creeping rootstock, reaching a short height of 5-10 inches/12-25 cm and a wide spread of up to 18 inches/45 cm. With hairy stems, it has thicker leaves and blossoms in general, its flowers having a less pronounced scent, and appearing less often as German Chamomile. Its flowers are also a bit smaller, around .5-1 inch/1-2.5cm wide.
German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is a hardy annual, self-seeding and growing to a larger height of up to 24 inches/60 cm and has a narrow spread of only 4 inches/10 cm. With hairless stems, its flowers have a more conical yellow center, with more fern-like foliage. Its flowers are a bit bigger, around 1-2 inches/2.5-5 cm wide.
Harvesting: Once fully opened, the flowering tops can be collected continuously throughout the summer, either blossom-by-blossom, or by snipping off the very topmost aerial sections and including a bit of the stems. Either use fresh or dry and preserve them for future use.
Uses & Actions: Often taken in the form of a tea or rich herbal infusion or a tincture, Chamomile is a classic calming, soothing herbal support with gentle nervine actions. It is traditionally used to ease nervous tension and anxiety, for promoting restful sleep, and easing muscle tension and cramps. It’s also commonly used for indigestion, heartburn, and bloating, for stimulating gastric secretions, and easing many inflammatory conditions, such as IBS. Chamomile also has a traditional use for menstrual cramping as well. An infused-oil can also be made, which is wonderful for skin-health and various skin conditions, especially well known for rashes and eczema in particular. Chamomile is one of the most commonly used herbs today, and for good reason. It is extremely safe and gentle, only a risk for those rare few people who with severe ragweed allergies. An especially good choice for babies and little ones too!
Botanical Design: “Medicinal Plants Coloring Book” – Ilil Arbel
I hope you enjoyed this short herbal monograph! Head back to the Herbalism page for more ways to study herbs and their properties, actions, preparations, and traditional use in day-to-day living, or look up a few more herbal mini-monographs and read about another plant in depth.
DISCLAIMER: Any information offered here is for educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Leaves in My Hair makes neither medical claim, nor intends to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition. You must do your own independent research concerning the safety and usage of any herbs and for making any decisions regarding your health. Pregnant or breastfeeding women, persons with known medical conditions, and those on medication should consult with their licensed health care provider about any medical decisions. References to external websites and resources are for informational purposes only. Leaves in my Hair neither endorses them nor is in any way responsible for their content.