Chamomile is one of the most popular herbal remedies used worldwide. Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is a small shrub native to Europe and Asia, with its natural range extending into North Africa and the Middle East. It grows up to 3 feet tall, but rarely exceeds 2 feet in height due to climate changes. The leaves are oval shaped, light green or grayish brown, and 1/2 inch long at maturity. They have no odor and are edible when raw. The flowers are white, 1/4 inch across, and are borne on short stalks. The flower petals are followed by a thick capsule containing numerous tiny seeds which will germinate within 24 hours after being exposed to air. These seeds contain the berry equivalent of between 4% and 6% caffeine; however, they may not produce enough caffeine to cause intoxication if eaten before maturity.
The seeds are considered poisonous if ingested by humans, although the berries themselves are not toxic. Chamomile is usually grown indoors because it does not tolerate poor soil conditions well. It prefers moist soil and can grow in almost any type of medium. Chamomile plants require full sun to thrive, but they adapt very well to partial shade. In fact, some varieties can even survive complete darkness!
A windowsill is a good place to grow chamomile. It can also be grown outdoors in USDA zones 4 through 9.
Once you begin harvesting your chamomile plants, the flowers should be dried for future use. If you plan to dry the flowers, harvest them when they are just opening up and the ground around the plants has started to turn brown. If you wait too long to harvest the flowers they will release more oils that will give your tea a bitter taste. If you want to grow chamomile plants for the purpose of collecting their seeds, let the flowers turn completely brown and then gently brush them off the plant. You can then place them in a paper bag to finish drying.
Whatever you do, don’t throw away the chamomile plant after you have harvested its flowers or seeds!
Sources & references used in this article:
False chamomile seed germination requirements and its enhancement by ethephon and nitrate by M Mekki, GD Leroux – Weed Science, 1991 – JSTOR
Scentless chamomile (Matricaria perforata) growth, development, and seed production by RE Blackshaw, KN Harker – Weed Science, 1997 – JSTOR
Studies on German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita L.) propagation and the effect of light and age on seed viability by KK Timothy, M Mwangi – Journal of Animal &Plant Sciences, 2015 – ir-library.ku.ac.ke
… between density‐dependent processes, population dynamics and control of an invasive plant species, Tripleurospermum perforatum (scentless chamomile) by YM Buckley, HL Hinz, D Matthies, M Rees – Ecology Letters, 2001 – Wiley Online Library
Use of genotyping-by-sequencing to determine the genetic structure in the medicinal plant chamomile, and to identify flowering time and alpha-bisabolol … by LG Otto, P Mondal, J Brassac, S Preiss, J Degenhardt… – BMC genomics, 2017 – Springer
Antioxidant activity of water and alcohol extracts of chamomile flowers, anise seeds and dill seeds by K Mohammad Al‐Ismail… – … of the Science of Food and …, 2004 – Wiley Online Library
Sodium chloride effects on seed germination, growth and ion concentration in chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) by SF Afzali, H Shariatmadari… – Iran Agricultural …, 2011 – iar.shirazu.ac.ir
Antioxidant and antimicrobial activities of essential oil and extracts of fennel (Foeniculum vulgare L.) and chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.) by MHH Roby, MA Sarhan, KAH Selim, KI Khalel – Industrial crops and …, 2013 – Elsevier