History of Chamomile

Chamomile history begins in ancient Egypt, where it was first mentioned as a cure for fever, often called the "ague". The crushed flowers were also rubbed on the skin as a cosmetic. The Egyptians used its essence as the main ingredient in embalming oil for preserving deceased pharaohs.

Chamomile Flower in Brush Strokes

The word "chamomile" comes from ancient Greece, Chamomaela, and means "ground apple". Pliny the Elder mentions the similarity of the smell of the chamomile flower to the apple blossom, and this may be why the ancients used the term. The Romans used chamomile to flavor drinks and in incense, as well as a medicinal herb.

In Spain the flower is called "manzanilla" (also meaning "little apple"). It has long been used to flavor a light sherry called by the same name. The Norsemen put it in a kind of shampoo. It was thought to add luster to the braided locks.

In Medieval times the petals were strewn about at gatherings to create pleasant odors. Chamomile was used to flavor beer before hops were put to that use. Monks discovered that one in every 10,000 or so chamomile plants (Anthemis nobilis) have double-headed flowers. These plants had a milder flavor, although the seeds were sterile, they were cultivated by cloning for use in tisanes and as a medicinal herb.1

What is today known as Roman Chamomile was not actually cultivated by the Romans but was discovered by an English Botanist in the Coliseum growing wild. He brought it back to England where it is one of the primary forms of chamomile now cultivated. Chamomile is not native to the Americas, but was brought over and planted by colonists. Eventually, the seeds made it into the wild. It can now be found in yard and field, as well as in the garden.

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  1. History of Chamomile


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