Synonyms for German Chamomile: Scented Mayweed, Wild Chamomile
Scientific Name: Chamomilla recutita L.
Family: Compositae/Asteraceae (Daisy Family)
For some, chamomile probably brings back unpleasant memories of nasty tasting teas made by well-meaning mothers who only wanted the best for their children. Others may be reminded of colourful roadsides in the summer where chamomile provides fragrant yellow-and-white splashes of colour from May to June. The annual or biennial plants, which can grow to a height of 50 cm, have finely divided leaves which peek out from beneath the closely packed flower heads like tips of a feather. Like all members of the daisy family the chamomile has a flower head composed of numerous individual florets: yellow ones with very short petals and individual florets with an additional long white petal. These form the characteristic white fringe around the flowerhead. German chamomile has many relatives which are difficult to distinguish from each other at first sight. A reliable distinguishing characteristic of German Chamomile is the hollow receptacle: if you carefully cut through a flowerhead you will find that it is hollow on the inside. If you want to pick flowers to make chamomile tea, be sure to pay attention to this reliable feature as the very similar dog chamomile can produce unpleasant allergic reactions.