Matricaria chamomilla & Tripleurospermum inodorum Matricaria chamomilla & Tripleurospermum inodorum

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Scented Mayweed

Matricaria chamomilla

  • Latin synonyms: Chamomilla recutita, Matricaria recutita
  • Name also: Wild Chamomile, German Chamomile
  • Family: Daisy Family – Compositae, subfamily Asteroideae
    (formerly Aster Family – Asteraceae)
  • Growing form: Annual herb.
  • Height: (5–)10–60 cm ((2–)4–25 in.). Stem usually abundantly branched, almost glabrous. Strong herb-like fragrance.
  • Flower: Single flower-like approx. 1–2.5 cm (0.4–1 in.) capitula surrounded by involucral bracts. Capitula’s ray-florets white, tongue-like, curving downwards; disc florets yellow, tubular, small. Stamens 5. Pistil of 2 fused carpels. Involucral bracts linear, greenish, with membranous margins. Disc narrowly stacked, hollow. Capitula borne in a corymbose cluster of up to over 100.
  • Leaves: Alternate, short-stalked–stalkless. Blade 2–3 times sparsely pinnately lobed–with leaflets. Lobes or leaflets thread-like, glabrous.
  • Fruit: Elliptic, light greyish brown, 4–5-ridged, approx. 1 mm (0.04 in.) long achene.
  • Habitat: Fields, yards, renewed lawns, flower beds, roadsides, wasteland. Also cultivated.
  • Flowering time: June–October.

Scented mayweed’s volatile oil, which can be found in its capitula, have one of the best reputations and are one of the most diversely used in the field, and it is well known under its pseudonym German chamomile. Its antiseptic properties make it useful for treating wounds, respiratory problems and colds, and as a general medicinal for stomach and digestive problems. According to the Doctrine of Signs it has also been used to treat women’s troubles: the hollow, cleft receptacle is like a womb, and the plant’s scientific name refers to the Latin word matrix – or perhaps mater, which means ‘mother’.

Scented mayweed is native to Eurasia, south of Finland, but it has probably been cultivated as a medicinal herb in Finland’s affluent gardens and the yards of smallholdings since ancient times, before the idea of pharmacies had ever been conceived. Even today it is still cultivated as a useful plant. It also grows as an old weed, especially in the south-west of Finland in places that have long been inhabited, and it can be found almost anywhere in Finland that people have affected, although there are usually only a few short-lived plants at most growing here or there.

Scented mayweed in Finland can be confused with scentless mayweed (Tripleurospermum maritimum ssp. inodorum), which is very common. Although the species are nowadays classed independently, they are so similar in appearance that even the father of taxonomy Carl von Linné mistakenly regarded them as the same species. Those with a good sense of smell can tell them apart with their nose, however, on the basis of scented mayweed’s pleasant fragrance. Additionally, scented mayweed has more capitula, they are clearly smaller, and their white ray-florets soon turn downwards. The capitulum’s yellow disc is clearly higher and stacked. The case can be proved once and for all by cutting the disc in half: scented mayweed’s is hollow while scentless mayweed’s is full. Scentless mayweed lacks scented mayweed’s medicinal properties so it is important to learn the difference between the two.

Other species from the same genus
Other species from the same family

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