Chamomile is a wonderful plant that I love but I found something similar that grows wild and that I like even better! Meet my beloved Pineapple Weed, A.K.A. Wild Chamomile, A.K.A. Matricaria discoidea. Let's explore this lovely 'weed'!
I've currently got bunches of tied Pineapple Weed hanging from everywhere you can imagine in our home. It creates the most lovely aromatic smell that wafts through the house and I am as pleased as punch!
Pineapple weed can be found growing from mid-spring through the end of the summer.
Let's begin with a bit of the facts coming out of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. If we get all of the identification facts and otherwise out of the way, we an dive into the deliciousness and medicinal values of this extrordinary plant!
matricaire odorante, matricaire suave, Chamomilla suaveolens Rydb.
Composite or Aster Family (Compositae)
This is an annual reproducing only by seed.
Pineappleweed occurs throughout Ontario around farmyards, waste areas and roadsides. It is occasionally found in compacted soil along the edges of pathways.
Stems & Roots:
Stems are erect and very branched
Stems are 5-40 cm (2-16in.) high
Smooth and hairless
Leaves are alternate (1 per node)
Finely dissected leaves
Leaves are light green in colour, hairless and slightly fleshy
Flowers & fruit:
Flower heads are small, 5-9mm (1/5-¾in.)
Conic or egg-shaped flowers
Yellow-green colour without florets
Flowers from spring until autumn.
Often confused with / distinguishing features:
The flower heads and other parts of the plant, when crushed, distinctly smells of pineapple. This is its most distinguishing feature. Other distinguishing features include its small height, small flower heads that lack ray florets and smooth hairless stems below the flower heads.
*For more from the Ontario website click here: www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/facts/ontweeds
Now for the fun stuff!
When I first began using pineapple weed it was strictly for a hot tea with lemon that I absolutely love! It's very similar to chamomile but the flavour of pineapple is very much present. Little did I know that this tasty weed was packing more healing value than I could possibly have imagined!
A close relative of camomile, pineapple weed has been used in folk medicine for centuries.
The name matricaria is derived from the Latin matrix (uterus),. Matricaria’s base word is Matrix, Dead Latin for womb but that translates into “mother” and used to mean it has many medicinal uses. In contemporary terms we might say it is the Mother Of All Herbs. “-Oides” is Dead Latin’s version a Greek suffix which now means “look’s like.” This plant has been used for a host of gynaecological disorders.
According to several of my wildflower and wild edibles identification books, Pineapple Weed is helpful in treating colds, intestinal upset and menstrual cramps. It is also considered a mild sedative similar to chamomile.
Steve Johnson, founder of the Alaskan Flower Essence Project and author of the Essence of Healing, says that Pineapple Weed is indicated for use "when we feel a lack of harmony with our physical environment; unaware of the support and nurturing that is available from nature; and a weak nurturing bond between mother and child." He adds, "The essence helps us maintain a calm awareness of ourselves and our surroundings as that we can remain free from injury and risk; promotes harmony between mothers and children, and between humans and the earth."
Other uses for pineapple weed have been as a sedative, an anti-inflammatory, an antispasmodic and an anthelmintic. The use of pineapple wide for medicinal purposed has not been approved or evaluated by the FDA, however, it has been used for hundred of years with success. Potential side-effects or drug interactions are mostly limited to individuals having allergic reactions to the plant or relating to seasonal allergies.
The flower heads, stalks, and leaves are edible raw or cooked (all but the root). Pineapple weed flower heads can be eaten straight from the plant as a snack (make sure they are not sprayed or otherwise chemically treated – roadside plants should not be eaten as they are exposed to engine exhaust), used in salads, soups and breads or as a delightfully mild-pineapple flavored tea.
NOTE: Some people are allergic to wild chamomile (pineapple weed). Use caution and consume only in very small amounts until you’re sure it won’t cause a reaction.
As always, forage using common sense. If you are not 100% sure; DON’T eat it. Some herbs may interact with medications, check with your doctor.
It's one a my favorite Summertime sweet iced teas. I put some pineapple weed in a large glass container with some citrus and let it sit in the Sun all day. If you like it sweetened just add a bit of honey.
I'll be writing out my Sun Tea recipes in the Recipe Section of this website a little later, maybe tomorrow even.
I'm located in the Niagara Region of Southern Ontario, Canada.
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Your medicine is in the woods.
Your pharmacy is in your kitchen.