Roman Chamomile is a small, attractive, creeping plant with daisy-like flowers and aromatic, feathery, grey-green leaves which have a fresh apple scent when crushed and are commonly made into tea.
This perennial herb will only grow to about 25cm (10in) as it creeps along the ground and makes an excellent ground cover or creeper
The solitary flowers have white ray florets with a yellow disc standing proudly on the top of the stem. This is a plant which can make good ground cover if kept short and is ideal as a lawn substitute.
Chamomile lawns were once very popular in gardens, and are still to be found occasionally, while the New Forest has extensive natural chamomile lawns.
The recent upsurge in interest has led to a revival in old-style garden features. Chamomile lawns, often in raised beds, are amongst these. Sir Francis Drake may have played his famous game of bowls on a chamomile lawn, though presumably not one on a raised bed!
Since it does not grow to be very tall, Roman Chamomile is often used between stones in a garden. It can also be used together with Thymus serpyllium, creeping thyme to make a deliciously scented thyme and chamomile lawn.
To make a Chamomile Lawn or Seat:
Chamomile lawns are beautiful things and require only the minimum of care: water if required and harvest at regular intervals. However to make a chamomile lawn requires a little patience for the plants to knit together.
Start by sowing seeds in seed trays. Do not cover the seed, just press gently into the compost. The growing season is quite short, seeds will germinate in less than two weeks, if sown in April will be flowering and ready to harvest in June to July.
Plant 30cm (12in) apart in all directions in well drained soil and water well. You will need to hand weed until the plants grow to exclude competitive weeds – the small plants will soon spread and fill in the spaces.
Hand clip your chamomile if you wish to prevent the flower heads forming,
Once established Roman Camomile will produce side shoots, these will root readily out of doors or place into pots and keep well watered. When grown as a crop Roman Camomile beds are lifted and re-planted every three years.
Roman chamomile is resistant to drought and will survive for some time without water.
Main home remedy uses:
Chamomile is regarded as anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and anti-fungal.
Camomile tea is an ideal family remedy for restlessness and irritability. It is a mild sedative, good at bedtime, or for children’s travel sickness. Camomile tea can taste a little bitter; a spoonful of honey will improve the taste.
Throughout history women have treasured the benefits of a Chamomile herbal wash; a simple infusion rinsed through the tresses after a shampoo leaves silky locks that lighten in the sun.
For a divine facial treatment, wet a soft flannel with a warm Chamomile infusion and apply lightly to your whole face; better still, enjoy a facial steam by leaning over a steaming bowl of chamomile tea with a towel “tent” over your head. After about 5 minutes or so, stimulate your pores with a rinse of cool water and moisturise with Rose hip or Cucumber seed oil. Not only will your complexion feel smooth, clean and radiant, but your sinuses will reap the benefits from the Chamomile steam treatment as well.
When late nights and lack of sleep leave your eyes puffy and dark, or if seasonal allergies have your peepers looking red and inflamed, Chamomile will do double duty as a tea to calm allergies and relieve tension and insomnia but don’t throw out those tea bags! Cooled Chamomile tea bags placed over the eyes comforts eye strain, reduces inflammation and lightens the appearance of dark circles. A Chamomile compress placed over the eyes and forehead can also ease tension, sinus and even migraine headaches.
Harvest and Storing:
Pick the flowers when in full bloom: pick on a dry day, early in the morning.
Dry in a suitable position, such as an airing cupboard, where the light is excluded and the temperature is even.
Turn and shake regularly. Chamomile should be dry in around four days – It will feel crisp and resilient. Store in a dark airtight jar.
Many gardeners think of chamomile as a 'Plant Doctor' herb because it has a remedial and healthy effect on neighbouring plants - especially plants which appear weak or sick.
Chamomile is useful when planted near to Cabbages, Cucumbers and Onions as it wards of the insects that besiege these crops.
Some growers use cold camomile tea as a spray to prevent damping-off of seedlings. It is especially useful to gardeners that practice organic principles.
Chamomile accumulates calcium, potassium and sulfur, later returning them to the soil.
Chamomile is often spelt Camomile in Britain. The more common British spelling 'camomile', corresponding to the immediate French source, is the older in English, while the spelling 'chamomile' more accurately corresponds to the ultimate Latin and Greek source.
Chamaemelum nobile or Roman chamomile is often called True chamomile or English chamomile.
The name Chamomile derives, via French and Latin, from Greek chamaimēlon meaning 'earth-apple' - chamai meaning 'on the ground' and mēlon meaning 'apple', for their applelike scent.
Chamomile is nowadays correctly known as Chamaemelum nobile, but some books refer to its former name Anthemis nobilis. The genus name Anthemis is taken from the Greek anthemon meaning 'flower' for their profuse blooming.
The species name nobile simply means 'notable'. It was considered the best chamomile for herbal use.
Chamomile is a common name for several daisy-like plants:
The two most commonly used are -
- Chamaemelum nobile (formerly Anthemis nobilis), the perennial Roman chamomile, the "lawn" chamomile
- Matricaria recutita (syn. M. chamomilla), the annual German or blue chamomile, commonly used medicinally and in teas (Do not plant as a lawn – it is an annual plant and will die back).
The uses of both German and English chamomile parallel each other. If you are in England, the chamomile you would use is likely Chamaemelum nobile. In the rest of the world, German chamomile, Matricaria recutita dominates commerce.
Believe it or not, even though these two plants look alike, taste alike and have the same name, according to botanists, are not related at all. While Roman Chamomile tends to be the slightly more sedating of the two and German Chamomile is just a little more anti-inflammatory, for the most part these two herbs can be used interchangeably.
If in doubt as to which you have, wait for the plants to flower. When they do, cut into the central cone of one of the flowers with a knife. If the cone is hollow, you have annual German chamomile. If the cone is solid, you have the perennial Roman kind.
Other Chamomiles include:-
- Anthemis arvensis, corn chamomile
- Anthemis cotula, stinking chamomile or dog fennel
- Anthemis tinctoria, yellow, dyers chamomile or golden marguerite
- Ormenis multicaulis, Moroccan chamomile
- Eriocephalus punctulatus, Cape chamomile
- Matricaria discoidea, wild chamomile or pineapple weed.
- Matricaria perforata, scentless chamomile, mayweed or scentless mayweed.
Please consult Culpepper for more information
Culpeper's Colour Herbal. Publisher: W Foulsham & Co Ltd. ISBN: 978-0572027940
- Additional Information
Common Name English or Lawn Chamomile
Also spelt Camomile
Other Common Names True Chamomile Family Asteraceae Genus Chamaemelum Species nobile Synonym formerly Anthemis nobilis Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Small daisy like blooms, yellow centre surrounded by white petals. Natural Flower Time July to Sept Height 15 to 30cm (6 to 12in) Spacing 15 to 22 cm. (6 to 9 in) Position Prefers Full Sun. Time to Sow Sow in late spring/early summer or late summer/autumn. Germination 7 to 10 Days Harvest Pick the flowers when in full bloom: pick on a dry day, early in the morning. Notes Herb, Companion Plant