Anthemis Cotula. Wild Chamomile. May-Weed.

Botanical name: 

Table 14. Anthemis cotula. Stinking Chamomile. May-flower. (In England) Mathen. Dog's Fennel.

Anthemis Cotula.

Germ. Die stinkende Kamille, die Stinkkamille, Hundskamille, Hundsbloom, Hundsdill, Krotendill, Kuhdill, Hundsromey, Streichblume, Heilige Dille, Gänsekopf.
Dutch. Stinkende Kamille; Paddebloem.
Dan. Koedild, Hundekameelblomst, Hundeurt, Gaasedild, Baldersbraa, Bakerblom.
Norw. Siurguld, Gaaseguld, Gaasedill.
Swed. Surkullor; Hundkamiller.
W. Mannl. Surtuppor.
Upland. Surkullor.
Dalen. Hviteteja.
Skan. Ballensbro.
Engl. The Stinking Camomile, or May-weed; the Dog's Fennel.
Welsh. Llygad yr ych.
Fren. La Camomile puante;
vulg. la maroutte; oil de vache.
Ital. Camomilla foetida, cotula foetida.
Span. Manzanilla foetida, cotula foetida.
Port. Macella foetida, cotula bastarda.
Russ. Solotucha (trava).
Pol. Psi ruinien; Rumieniec smierdzacy.
Bohm. Psy rmen.
Hung. Eb kapor; Budbske ar.
Lettonia. Sunnisclii, Sirgu kummelis (i. e. horse-chamomile.)
Eston. Kannapersed; Kanna perse hein.

Hat einen starken, unangenehmen Geruch, sonst aber viel Aehnlichkeit mit der Ackerkamille. Sie ist officinell. — Die Kröten lieben sie, wie andere stinkende Gewachse, ungemein, daher sie auch Krötendill genannt wird. Den Bienen hingegen ist ihr Geruch unerträglich. Man soil auch die Flöhe damit vertreiben kbnnen. (Polyglot Lex.)

Anthemis cotula, L.
Sp. Plant. 1261.
Amoen. Acad. 4. p. 522.
Mat. Med. 530.
Huds. 373.
With. 738. ed. 5th. vol. 3. p. 910.
Hull. 188.
Relh. 323.
Sibth. 259.
Abbot. 186.
Curt. Lond. Fasc. 5. t. 61.
Raii Syn. 185.
Bauh. Hist. v. 3. 120-36.
Robson, 186.
Fl. Dan. 1179.
Eng. Bot. 1772.
Lob. Abs. 447. 1, and ic. 1. 773. 2.
Germ. ed. 757. 1.
Park. 87. 9. H. ox. vi. 12. 8 f
Fuchs. 583. I. B. iii. a. 121. 1.
Gars. 216.
St. Hilaire. Germ. Plant, vol. 1. part 2. p. 409.
Brunf. Herb. v. 1. 255.
Germ. em. 757.
Pet. H. Brit. t. 19. f. 11.
Smith. Fl. Brit. vol. 2. p. 906.
Gron. Virg. 127.
Shoepf. Mat. Med. Am. p. 125.
Willd. Sp. Pl. Tom. HI. pars iii. p. 2181.
Fl. Suec. 703; 767.
Mat. Med. 190.
Dalib. Paris. 263.
Pall. it. 1. p. 46.
Pollich. pal. n. 817.
Blackw. t. 67.
Hoffm. Germ. 303.
Roth. Germ. I. 368. H. 354.
Roy. Lugdb. 172.
Hall. Helv. n. 104.
Bauh. Pin. 135.
Houttuyn. Lin. Pfl. Syst. 9. p. 509.
Pers. Syn. PL pars. 2. p. 466.
Suter. Fl. Helv. vol. 2. p. 195.
Lam. ill. gen. t. 683. f. 3.
Ait. Hort. Kew. ed. 2d.vol. 5. p. 107.
Scopoli. Fl. Carn. n. 1092.
Dod. Pempt. 258.
Bege. Fl. Bost. p. 202.
Pursh. Fl. Am. Sep. vol. 2. p. 562. sub nomine Anthemis arvensis.
Bart. Prod. Fl Ph. p. 83.
Purton's British Plants, vol. 2. p. 397.
Smith. Compend. Fl. Brit. p. 126.
Curt. Fl. Lon.


Gen. Plant. 1312.

Recept. Paleaceum. Pappus submarginatus. Cal. Hemisphsericus, squamis subxqualibus. Flosc. radii plures quam 5, oblongi. (Sm. Fl. Brit.)
Recept. Paleaceum: paleis planis, apice acuminatis, rigidis. Pappus nullus s. margo membranaceus. Flores radii plures quam 5, Cal. hemisphsricus, subsquab's. (Pursh. Fl. Am. Sep.)
Recept. Paleaceum. Pappus nullus. Cal. hemisphsericus. (Willd. Sp. Pl.)
Nat. Syst. Jussieu Corymbiferae. Classis X. Ordo. III.
Anthemis, L. * Chamaemelum, T. * Bupthalmum, T.* Cotula, T. * Camomille. Flores radiati, ligulislanceolatis numerosis. Calix imbricatus sub aequalis hemisphaericus. Folia ssepe multifida; flores saepe in ramulis terminales; ligulae albae aut luteae, raro nullae. A Matricaria discrepat receptaculo paleaceo. Calix A. Arabicae quasi bracteis obovallatus. Juss. Gen. PL p. 185.
Nat. Ord. Linnaei. Compositae radiatae. Adanson, Compositae.
Classis, Syngenesia. Ord. Polygamia Superflua, Lin. Syst.

The general characters of Anthemis are, that it has a calix common, hemispherical, consisting of numerous linear subequal scales; corolla compound, radiate; florets in the disk hermaphrodite and tubular, those in the radius female, and more than five; the former are funnel-shaped, five toothed, erect, the latter ligulate, lanceolate, and sometimes three-toothed. In the hermaphrodite florets the filaments are five, capillary, very short, supporting cylindrical tubular anthera. Germen oblong, style filiform, stigmata two, reflex; seeds solitary, receptacle chaffy, convex.

Anthemis Cotula, receptaculo conico, paleis setaceis, seminibus muticis, foliis bipinnatifidis glabriusculis. Smith. Fl. Brit.

Anthemis Cotula, receptaculis conicis, paleis setaceis, seminibus nudis, foliis bipinnatis foliolis subulatis tripartitis. Willd. Sp. Pl.

Anthemis Cotula, recepticle conical, its scales bristle-shaped; seeds naked; leaves doubly pinnatifiid, somewhat smooth. Sm.


Chamaemelum foetidum. Raii. Syst.
C. foetidum, sive Cotula foetida. Bauh. Pin.
C. foliis glabris, &c. Hall.
Cotula foetida. Brumf. Herb.
Cotula alba. Dod. Pempt.
Anthemis Noveboracensis. Caelbi. Amoen. Acad.

Pharm. Cotula foetidae Herba, Flores.
Qual. Foetida, amara. Inusitata, eximia.
Vis: Anodyna, pellens, repellens.
Usus: Hysteria. Epilepsia, Hydrops, Scrophula, Asthma. Infus. Rheumatismus, contusiones. Shoepf. Mat. Med.

Descriptio Uberior.

Panta annua. Radix tortuosa. Caubs ramosissimus, erectus, foliosus, multiflorus, g-laber.. Fona bipinnatifida, plana, incisa, lsete viridia, vix pilosa. Calix pilosus, minus scariosus. Discus aureus, convexus. Flosculi radii albi, tridentati, patentes, noctu deflexi. Semina obovata, sulcata, ommino mutica, interdum tuberculato-scabra. Receptaculum cylindraceo-conicum; pales omnino setacese, flosculis breviores; florens Jubo et Augusto. Sm. Fl. Brit.
Herba, et praecipue flores, ingrati odoris. Variat flore pleno. Dill.

The generic name Anthemis, is supposed to be derived from Ανθεω, floreo, having an abundance of flowers. It designates a family of plants of the Chamomile kind, all the species of which are strikingly alike in habit. The species now under consideration is a common weed found every where in the neighbourhood of habitations, and rather repulsive from its peculiar and disagreeable smell.

The whole plant is slightly covered with adpressed woolly hairs or down, perceptible to the naked eye, but very conspicuous under a lens. The root is annual, simple, or sometimes contorted, fibrous. Stalk from one to two feet high, irregularly angular, finely furrowed, or sometimes only striated, erect, and very much branched down to the bottom. The leaves are alternate, sessile, flat, doubly pinnated; the mid-rib keeled underneath. Flower-stalks upright, finely grooved, naked, thickening . towards the top. Calix common to all the florets, hemispherical, imbricated, hairy, scarious, or rough; the scales narrow, slightly margined, of a pale green colour. Flowers pure white, with the centre bright yellow. In favourable situations they are of the size represented in the plate, but not uncommonly somewhat smaller; yet I have occasionally seen them, in unmolested places, something larger. The disk is of a bright golden-yellow colour, consisting of numerous, tubular, hermaphrodite, five-toothed florets.

The ray florets are female, lanceolate, inclining to ovate, tworibbed, one, two, or three toothed (more or less deeply) at the apex. They are reflexed from sunset till morning, but spreading horizontally during the day. They are pure white, slightly tinged with greenish-yellow at the base. The tubular part of the floret, as well as the germen, is garnished with transparent glands, visible without a glass, but more conspicuously apparent and beautiful under one. Stigma bifid, with the segments reflexed. Receptacle conical, or nearly cylindrical, surmounted by rigid, bristle-shaped pale* or chaff. Seeds, obovate, bluntly four-cornered, sulcated, sometimes roughly tuberculated, and of a brownish colour. Found growing every where in wastes, near to habitations, among rubbish, and on dirty way sides, all along calcareous turnpike roads, where it seems to delight, shooting up among the stones. It grows plentifully in the streets, along the gutters, and on the vacant lots of the suburbs of Philadelphia and Baltimore; and every where through the streets of Germantown, Frankfort, Lancaster, and York, and I presume in other similar places in the United States. It ranges extensively over our states, and is universally known by the name of wild chamomile. It flowers from midsummer till late in the autumn; and I have often seen it luxuriantly blooming in November and December, in the navy yard of this city.

This plant is very active, and is said by Curtis [Flora Londinensis.] to blister the skin of reapers and children in England, who gather it. It is there so common in corn-fields, as to diminish the crops occasionally. It is also said to be fond of soil well manured. This circumstance, together with the fact of its vesicating property, which our plant does not, I think, possess; and also some discrepancies in the habit and structure of the plant, induced me to entertain doubts whether the Anthemis Cotula of Europe, and the plant designated by that name in this country, were identical. Not being however so fully satisfied as to make up my mind on the subject, I leave it for the future investigation and scrutiny of botanists to determine. Dillettius describes a double-flowered variety, which Withering, Smith, and others inform us is to be found in different parts of England. I have never seen the American plant even approximating to this duplication of its flowers. Pursh has most surprisingly mistaken this plant for Anthemis arvensis, the figure of which in English botany, he refers to. I cannot conceive how he has fallen into this palpable error; for the arvensis is strikingly unlike the A. Cotula. "Toads are said to be fond of this plant. It is very ungrateful and displeasing to bees. Goats and sheep are not fond of it. Horses, cows, and swine refuse it." [Lm. Withering, and Purton.]

Medical Properties.

The medical virtues of May-weed have long been spoken of, but still have been imperfectly known. Few of our common plants have been more extensively employed in domestic medicine, and by empirics, than this, and yet scarcely is a physician to be met with who speaks decidedly of its virtues. Extensive enquiries have led me to a knowledge of the fact of its common, nay daily use, by the vulgar; and induced me to make some trials of it in cases in which it was reputed useful. It may be first proper to state the general reputation of this plant, as a medicine in certain diseases, and then mention the result of my own experience with it. Shoepf who speaks particularly of it, describes it as a foetid bitter, being anodyne, and repellant; and says that it is used in hysteria, epilepsy, dropsy, scrofula, and asthma; and also that an infusion is useful in contusions and for rheumatism. Here we evidently see that at the period when Shoepf wrote his work (in 1787) great powers were imputed to the plant, and that it was extensively and variously employed. I have reason, from the observation and enquiries I have made, to believe that this undue reputation is still attached by the vulgar of this country to the plant in question, and that it is, consequently, still much resorted to for medical relief. Decoctions of it are said to be used in cases of hysteric suffocation, and in common cases of what are called hysteric fits, as a bath or fomentation. In the same form it has also been applied to hemorrhoidal swellings and pains, and to all sorts of contusions. It appears to be more generally employed externally, than by inward administration. Yet both decoctions and infusions are not unfrequently given internally, in fevers and colds. The notion that it can cure scrofula, is not confined to the work of Dr.Shoepf: Curtis quotes Mr. Ray as mentioning "that a decoction of the herb has by some (in England,) been given internally, with success, in scrofulous cases." [Flora Londinensis.] It is not, I presume, necessary for me to say, that I give no kind of credit to the reputed powers of this plant in curing scrofula; and the accounts above mentioned, are given with no other view than to communicate all I have been able to learn relative to it.

William Withering, Esq. editor of the 5th edition of his father's work on British plants, says, "the whole plant yields a strong aromatic odour." [Vol. 3. p. 910.] This seems remarkable, because the British plant is represented as being extremely foetid. That of the United States differs some little, though perhaps not specifically, from the foreign vegetable, and is certainly not foetid, though possessed of a peculiar, and, to most people, a disagreeable odour. The smell has nothing aromatic in it. I have heard that the flowers (in which the aroma resides, if there be any in the plant) have been collected, dried, and mixed with the common chamomile of the shops, for sale.

From the experience I have had with this plant, I am induced to believe, that it can be made useful as a bitter only; and it is indeed a strong and active bitter. Like some other articles of this class, as the common cha tiomile, a strong decoction, given in the dose of a tea-cup full, will produce copious vomiting and sweating. This circumstance induced me to use it as an assistant operative drink, after the administration of an emetic. And in this way I have found it extremely beneficial, uniformly encouraging and promoting the action of an emetic; and obviously in a more powerful manner than warm water operates.

Its popular use, and reputed efficacy in rheumatism, undoubtedly is owing to its sudorific effects, which are very considerable. A weak infusion taken to a moderate extent, nauseates the stomach, and produces a determination to the skin.

Table XIV.

Fig. 1. The upper portion of the Anthemis Cotula.
2 and 3. Parts of a floret of the ray.
4. A floret of the disk.
5. The bifid stigma.

Vegetable Materia Medica of the U.S. or Medical Botany, 1817 (Vol. I), 1818 (Vol. II), was written by William P. C. Barton, M. D.