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Plant Profile: German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)

Read the word “chamomile”, and I think tea and sleep but German chamomile is also a charming garden plant having a feathery foliage and bright white daisy-like flowers with gold centers. It is a fairly tall erect annual that is easy to grow and is sometimes called mayweed, a name that tells you something. Yes, there is a short chamomile too; a totally different plant with the common name Roman chamomile and the botanical name Chamaemelum nobile. It is a perennial, but like German chamomile has an apple like fragrance, feathery foliage, and small daisy-like flowers that make a good tea or can be eaten in salads. Both types of chamomile are said to have healing properties, and are used for a soothing bath, to improve the complexion, and to bring out golden highlights in brown hair. A word of warning, however; both chamomiles are related to ragweed and may cause allergic reactions.

Type: Annual herb.

Bloom: Small (1” in diameter) daisy-like flowers are produced in clusters from late spring through summer.

Foliage: Fine, feathery, light green leaves covered with downy fuzz.

Size: 2-3’ H x 12-24” W.

Light: Full sun to partial shade.

Soil: Sandy, well-drained.

Care: For tea, harvest flowers for drying when the petals begin to turn back on the disk.

Pests and Diseases: None of significance.

Propagation: Seed; will reseed; seeds profit from freezing and thawing so fall sowing beneficial.

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