2.7 Chamomile

Latin names:
German chamomile: Matricaria recutita (M. chamomilla, Chamomilla recutita)
Pineapple weed: Matricaria matricarioides
Roman Chamomile: Chamaemelum nobile (Anthemis nobilis)
English Chamomile: Chamaemelum nobile 'Treneague'

2.7.1 Growing chamomile

From: Jennifer A. Cabbage <fxjac.camelot.acf-lab.alaska.edu>
German chamomile is an annual that reaches 1 to 2 feet tall and is grown from seed. It prefers a moist sandy soil with a pH between 6 and 8.5, and full sun. Plant outdoors as early in the spring as possible. If seeds are planted on June 1, flowers should appear in late July or early August. Seedlings transplant easily when one to two inches tall.
Center of flower head is hollow.

English chamomile is a low-growing perennial that reaches 1 foot in height, propagated by seed, cuttings, or root division. It does well in a slightly acid to neutral soil with good drainage and full sun, but does not do well in hot, dry weather. Growing English chamomile in rich soil produces abundant foliage but few flowers.
Center of flower head is solid. Chamomile makes a good companion plant for broccoli.

> chamomile as groundcover - any experiences?

Anne_E._Comer.kamilche.wa.com (Anne E. Comer)
Chamomile is not usually the recommended choice for *HUGE* areas. It is sometimes used in mixtures. By itself it is best used in smallish areas where there will not be heavy foot traffic. It can stand some walking on and in fact that is one reason that it is used. When trodden on it releases a fragrance that is very pleasant to many people.

From: Denise Henry <denise.gromet.demon.co.uk>
Remember chamomile is not a grass!! This means that selective lawn weedkillers don't work. Make sure ground is well prepared with no perennial weeds and keep the site hand weeded in the first year until the plants grow together, after that you may still need to hand weed two or three times a year. A chamomile lawn is something special, but you can tell it was invented by people of a by-gone age with lots of money and a large supply of garden laborers. Try it in a small area by all means but only if you are prepared for some hard work.
(PS. I think it is worth the effort.)

From: naomib.sco.COM (Naomi Brokaw)
I like it, but it's not as carefree as some make it sound. I planted it last year (check the sections in the nursery where they sell herbs in flats). I was worried about mowing it before it got established, so I was going to wait until the cooler weather. Of course, this year, "cooler weather" meant about 7 months of rain (I'm just south of you, in Santa Cruz), so I could mow. The chamomile reached up, up, sending sun-seeking stems into my lavender, rock roses, rosemary, and yarrow. By the time I finally found the time and weather to mow, it was way too high, so I had to clip down by hand. That meant taking out most of the green stems and leaving the brown mat underneath. However, it did grow back the green within a few weeks, much faster than I feared.

It also has a tendency to die in patches, leaving brown again. Ugly while it lasts, but if you pull out the brown, the green will close in again in a few weeks.

I like the smell, but a lot of people find it cloying. On the other hand, you only smell it if you walk on it or cut it.

I tried mowing it a couple of weeks ago, with our rotary mower. Only a partial success. Our mower, which is probably dull, though sharp enough for the weeds out back, tends to pull up some of the chamomile clumps, instead of cutting them cleanly.

All in all, I'll use it again, but be aware of the drawbacks before you embrace it. It's a walkable ground-cover with a pleasant color that is nowhere near as thirsty as grass. Oh, it doesn't do well in medium to heavy shade. And bees love the flowers, so if you don't want a lot of bees (I love them), don't plant a lot of chamomile.

From: Kate Borley <kab1004.hermes.cam.ac.uk>
Re: Chamomile lawns: I saw a chamomile seat in the Cambridge University Botanical Gardens, it was a stone base with chamomile growing on the top in a wooden box and a wooden chair back. Apparently the Elizabethans invented these seats which they liked because a pleasing smell is given off by the crushed chamomile when the seat is used.

HeK comment: Now I'd like to know how they kept their behinds dry after watering the chamomile... (biig grin)

2.7.2 Harvesting Chamomile

From: Jennifer A. Cabbage <fxjac.camelot.acf-lab.alaska.edu>
Harvest and dry flowers of both species.

From hetta.saunalahti.fi (Henriette):
You can pick only the flowers, if you have lots of time. If you have other things in your garden, too, it's easier to just pick the whole flowering plant (when in full flower) (I've only done this with German chamomiles, Matricaria recutita, and don't know how it would work with the Roman ones). Cut off the root and any brownish parts, and make some bundles. Put them head-first into large paper bags, one bundle per bag. Cut lots of holes in the sides of the bags, but make sure to keep the bottoms whole. Hang up to dry. Now your chamomile will dry (it takes about a week), but you'll still have all the flowers, which are apt to fall out - they're in the bottom of your bag, not all over the floor.

When dry, cut stems and all into ½- 1 inch chunks. The stems are just a bit weaker in taste/efficacy than the flowers.

And use pineapple weed like you would use German chamomile, they're pretty close to identical twins, herbal wise.

2.7.3 Using / preserving Chamomile

From: Jennifer A. Cabbage <fxjac.camelot.acf-lab.alaska.edu>
Chamomile tea: one pint boiling water to ½ ounce flowers, steep 10 minutes. Strain. Add honey, sugar, milk or cream as desired.

Hair rinse: steep dried flowers in hot water, cool infusion. Strain.

> I've been told that a chamomile infusion used in the hair will bring out highlights. Does anyone have a recipe for this? Thanks!

From: Graham.fragrant.demon.co.uk (Graham Sorenson)
Two methods come to mind immediately.
One is to get some chamomile tea (loose or bags) and make a strong infusion. Or about five drops of Chamomile essential oil in a bowl of water. Then rinse hair with the result leaving for a while before rinsing out.

From: jrogow.ridgecrest.ca.us (Judith Rogow)
Chamomile Tea - very strong - is a wonderful hair rinse for shine and a glint of sunlight.

From: Annette
>.. seeking chamomile recipe for lightening hair..
I'm Annette using another person's number but I thought I'd respond to your question. Basically, just make a good strong tea with chamomile and put into a pout where you can stick your head in. Let tea cool for awhile and then stick your head in (can you read upside down?) and stay for 5-10 minutes, do weekly and hopefully you will see lightening.

Comment from Henriette: You need to strain the liquid _before_ putting your head in it, for all above methods. Otherwise you'll be occupied for a week or so, combing out the flowers...

2.7.4 Which chamomile do you have?

From: Anne_E._Comer.kamilche.wa.com (Anne E. Comer)
The German chamomile, Matricaria recutita is an annual and will reseed itself. Obviously this means that it flowers. It is probably the best kind if you want to harvest the flowers for tea.

Roman Chamomile, Chamaemelum nobile, is perennial, probably the most used form for lawns also flowers.

English Chamomile, Chamaemelum nobile 'Treneague', is non-flowering and is very good for lawns and pathways but it must be grown from cuttings as there is no flower, thus no seed.