Chamomile: Garden Flower, Weed, Tea
Chamomile is a name given to several different but similar flowers that look very much like daisies. They can grow wild, come up in the yard, and also be cultivated. Chamomile is most commonly used in making a tisane called chamomile tea.
There are three flowers refered to as chamomile. They all have similar characteristics in that they generally look alike, the smell and taste are close, and they all yield similar health benefits. Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) is very common in English speaking countries. Yet it is a relatively recent phenomena in the history of chamomile. It was found by an English Botanist in the 1600s growing wild in the Roman Coliseum (and thus the name). German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) grows wild all over Germany, but the essential oils (called chamazulene) are also highly prized in Hungary. Finally, there is Moroccan chamomile (Ormensis multicaulis) which is a variety of tansy.1
The health benefits of chamomile are thought to be many. It has been used to treat insomnia, skin problems, as well as to provide temporary relief from asthma. Some take it to regulate the menstrual cycle, and to treat ailments specifically related to female reproductive organs. Claims for it have been made in treating cancer, sore throat, diabetes, and even headache. It is probably best known as a stress reliever.
The most common method of consuming chamomile is in the form of chamomile tea. This can be easily made by soaking fresh or dried leaves in hot water for about three minutes. Many chamomile teas are available at the market in tea bags or loose. They are generally made from the German variety or a sterile form of the Roman Chamomile. Chamomile is often blended with other herbs and spices to create different blends. Chamomile tea can be made from flowers grown in the garden.
Planting and growing chamomile is not difficult. German chamomile can be planted directly from seed in early spring, either broadcast or in rows. The seeds need exposure to light in order to germinate, so do not cover them with soil. German chamomile is an annual. It needs to be kept watered, but not overly so. The best means of propagation of Roman chamomile is by division. As a perennial it tends to grow in bunches. These can be dug up periodically, separated at the roots and planted in new locations. Roman chamomile is very hardy and is frequently found in lawns, and as such is sometimes viewed as a weed. It can also be planted as a ground cover.
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The Health Benefits of Chamomile >>
- Which Camomile is Which?