German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) — UIC Heritage Garden (2022)

You can grow either German chamomile or Roman (English) chamomile but they are not the same plant. German chamomile is an annual, and it grows in a bushy shrub up to 3 feet tall. On the other hand, Roman chamomile is a perennial that only gets about a foot high and tends to grow along the ground. Though both will produce very similar aromatic blossoms, and are used in similar ways.

Not very many insects will bother your chamomile plants, and they even repel cucumber beetles (so plant near the veggie garden).

You do sometimes find clusters of tiny aphids on chamomile but they are not much of a threat. They are easy to spray off with the regular garden hose, or a little bit of insecticide spray can help control the bugs. Only use pesticides intended for fruits or vegetables, and don’t spray right before you intend to pick your flowers.

German Chamomile is a herbaceous annual native plant to southern and western Europe as well as northern and western Asia. It should not be confused with Roman Chamomile, which is perennial. German Chamomile is hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8 (6). It grows best in full sun or light shade and can grow up to 3 feet tall. It should be planted in light sandy soil with good drainage and should be placed about eight inches apart. The plant requires occasional watering. German Chamomile repels cucumber beetles and is recommended to be planted in vegetable gardens along with other companion plants. Not many insects bother the plant. Sometimes, clusters of aphids may be found, and they can be sprayed off with water or insecticide.

Culinary or Medicinal Uses
Chamomile is commonly used as a medicinal plant for its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-allergenic, and sedative properties (1). German chamomile is a herb, and its flower heads have been used to made medicine. Medicinal ingredients have been extracted from the dry flowers using water, ethanol, or methanol as solvents and corresponding extracts known as aqueous, ethanolic (alcoholic) and/or methanolic extract (9). Research shows that taking 220-1110 mg of German chamomile capsules daily for 8 weeks can reduce anxiety and depression in adults (7). Many people in the United States take chamomile to relieve anxiety or help them sleep (8). In the past, chamomile had been used to treat stomach cramps, irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, diarrhea, gas, and colic (8). Chamomile can be used in tea to treat lumbago, rheumatic problems, and rashes (3) It can also be used in a salve for hemorrhoids and wounds as well as a vapor to alleviate cold symptoms or asthma (3).

Significance to Cultural Communities
Many cultures use it as a medicinal plant for its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-allergenic and sedative properties.

German chamomile is native to Europe, North Africa, and some parts of Asia. It is closely related to the Roman chamomile, which has many of the same medicinal properties as German chamomile (8). Chamomile has been well-known throughout Egypt Greece, and Rome. its popularity grew through the Middle Age when people used it as a remedy for asthma, colic, fevers, inflammations, nausea, nervous complaints, children’s ailments, skin diseases, and cancer (9). Chamomile is often used in a cream or ointment to soothe irritated skin, especially in Europe (8). Chamomile is also used to naturally lighten hair. A strong chamomile tea is brewed should be used as a leave in treatment after shampooing. Chamomile flowers can also be used to make a yellow-brown fabric dye. Chamomile is one of the most popular herbal home remedies in Mexican and Puerto Rican cultures (10).

Rationale for use:

Dried chamomile flower is an age-old medicinal drug known in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Chamomile's popularity grew throughout the Middle Ages, when people turned to it as a remedy for numerous medical complaints including asthma, colic, fevers, inflammations, nausea, nervous complaints, children's ailments, skin diseases and cancer. As a popular remedy, it may be thought of as the European counterpart of ginseng.

specifically, chamomile may:

  • as a tea, be used for lumbago, rheumatic problems and rashes.

  • as a salve, be used for haemorrhoids and wounds.

  • as a vapor, be used to alleviate cold symptoms or asthma.

  • relieve restlessness, teething problems, and colic in children.

  • relieve allergies, much as an antihistamine would.

  • aid in digestion when taken as a tea after meals.

  • relieve morning sickness during pregnancy.

  • speed healing of skin ulcers, wounds, or burns.

  • treat gastritis and ulcerative colitis.

  • reduce inflammation and facilitate bowel movement without acting directly as a purgative.

  • be used as a wash or compress for skin problems and inflammations, including inflammations of mucous tissue.

  • promote general relaxation and relieve stress. Animal studies show that chamomile contains substances that act on the same parts of the brain and nervous system as anti-anxiety drugs. Never stop taking prescription medications, however, without consulting your doctor.

  • control insomnia. Chamomile's mildly sedating and muscle-relaxing effects may help those who suffer from insomnia to fall asleep more easily.

  • Treat diverticular disease, irritable bowel problems and various gastrointestinal complaints. Chamomile's reported anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic actions relax the smooth muscles lining the stomach and intestine. The herb may therefore help to relieve nausea, heartburn, and stress-related flatulence. It may also be useful in the treatment of diverticular disorders and inflammatory bowel conditions such as Crohn's disease.

  • soothe skin rashes (including eczema), minor burns and sunburn. Used as a lotion or added in oil form to a cool bath, chamomile may ease the itching of eczema and other rashes and reduces skin inflammation. It may also speed healing and prevent bacterial infection.

  • treat eye inflammation and infection. Cooled chamomile tea can be used in a compress to help soothe tired, irritated eyes and it may even help treat conjunctivitis.

  • heal mouth sores and prevent gum disease. A chamomile mouthwash may help soothe mouth inflammations and keep gums healthy.

  • reduce menstrual cramps. Chamomile's believed ability to relax the smooth muscles of the uterus helps ease the discomfort of menstrual cramping.

Harvest and Storage

Your plants can bloom all through the summer, so there isn’t any one specific harvest time. Most plants will start to put out flowers about a month after planting.

Harvesting your chamomile flowers is a tedious task, but worth the effort. You only want the blossoms, not their stems which means you have to pick them quite carefully. Of course, you can always go through your chamomile after picking to remove any extra bits of stem later. You can use fresh flowers for tea, but it’s more typical to dry them before use.

Spread them out somewhere warm and well-ventilated to thoroughly dry. Direct sunlight can harm the chamomile oils, so don’t just leave them out in the sun to dry. Indoors is usually best. Once dry, you can store chamomile flowers in a sealed container for a year.

When making tea, you’ll need approximately 1 teaspoon of dried flowers per up. For brewing with fresh chamomile blossoms, use almost twice that. Add a little honey for sweetness.

From the Community Voice
“Rosa shared how Chamomile is significant in the Cuban culture as a medicinal tea that is consumed when a person is sick. She shared how it was strange for her to see people in US consume tea as a casual drink, since for her it was something to be consumed only when sick. She also mentioned how chamomile tea has been used to lighten the hair color, used for creating highlights.” - Esha

________________
(1) McKay, D. L., Blumberg, J. B. 2006. “A Review of the Bioactivity and Potential Health Benefits of Chamomile Tea (Matricaria recutita L.).” Wiley Online Library. 2006.
(2) "German Chamomile Production." June 1, 2009.
(3) "Chamomile (Matricaria Recutita)." Chamomile Benefits & Information (Matricaria Recutita). http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-chamomile.html.
(4) "Herb, German Chamomile Organic | Seed Savers Exchange." Herb, German Chamomile Organic | Seed Savers Exchange. http://www.seedsavers.org/onlinestore/Herbs/Herb-Chamomile-German-OG.html.
(5)"Traditional Medicinal Knowledge in Cuba." Google Books. http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=Kc5xrqAD9fYC&oi=fnd&pg=PA101&dq=chamomile cuba&ots=ZfEztH_Nql&sig=upQZoxqXbW8C6NvGevBtyfqNuEs#v=onepage&q=chamomile cuba&f=false.
(6)"Matricaria Recutita/Chamomile, German Chamomile." Online Plant Guide. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://www.onlineplantguide.com/Plant-Details/4341/.
(7)"Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings - WebMD." WebMD. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-951-german chamomile.aspx?activeingredientid=951&activeingredientname=german chamomile.
8. "German Chamomile." University of Maryland Medical Center. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/german-chamomile#ixzz3WXdLyRIh.
9. Srivastava, Janmejai, Eswar Shankar, and Sanjay Gupta. "Chamomile: A Herbal Medicine of the past with Bright Future." Molecular Medicine Reports. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/.
(10) "Chamomile Herbal History and Medicinal Properties : Asteraceae." Herbal Encyclopedia. December 22, 2010. Accessed April 14, 2015. http://www.cloverleaffarmherbs.com/chamomile/.

FAQs

Will German chamomile come back every year? ›

German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is an annual plant; however, it usually comes back every year since it self-seeds so readily. You may think it's a perennial, just like Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), which returns yearly. Both are easy to care for in a garden and require very few extras to thrive.

Is Matricaria recutita the same as Matricaria chamomilla? ›

Matricaria chamomilla (synonym: Matricaria recutita), commonly known as chamomile (also spelled camomile), German chamomile, Hungarian chamomile (kamilla), wild chamomile, blue chamomile, or scented mayweed, is an annual plant of the composite family Asteraceae.

Is German chamomile invasive? ›

Notes: German Chamomile, also known as Matricaria recutita, has a long history of medicinal uses, cultivated globally and occasionally escapes cultivation but is not known to invade high quality habitat.

Is chamomilla recutita the same as chamomile? ›

The best-known botanical name for true chamomile is Matricaria recutita (syn. Matricaria chamomilla, Chamomilla recutita (L.) Rauschert, belonging to the genus Chamomilla and family Asteraceae.

Does chamomile keep mosquitoes away? ›

In conjunction with being a companion plant, chamomile helps to attract beneficial insects and pollinators to the garden. Hoverflies, beneficial wasps, ladybugs, and honey bees are all attracted to chamomile. As an added benefit, chamomile has also been known to deter mosquitoes!

Should I cut back German chamomile? ›

Pruning Chamomile for Greater Flower Production

If the production of flowers begins to slow down and your plants grow spindly, it's time to prune. You can cut the mass back, leaving about 4"-5" of growth. This will stimulate new growth and a second wave of blooms.

What does chamomile do to the brain? ›

Chamomile Benefits

Chamomile is widely recognized as a mild tranquilizer and sleep-inducer. It is thought that chamomile may increase brain neurotransmitter activity (serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline) and thereby have positive effects on mood and anxiety.

Do chamomile plants spread? ›

Chamomile Care Must-Knows

Roman chamomile does best in well-drained, sandy soil, full sun to part shade, and cool summer climates. It tolerates a little drought. Grow it from seed and see how it spreads over time via creeping stems that root as they move across the soil.

Is German chamomile better than Roman Chamomile? ›

Although Roman Chamomile is generally better known, German Chamomile offers endless benefits that are not to be ignored. Equally versatile when directly compared against Roman Chamomile, this oil is perfect when used within a skincare routine.

How do you stop chamomile from spreading? ›

The low-growing Roman chamomile spreads out quickly, so you might need to cut it back to keep it contained as a ground cover. Simply use clean, sharp clippers to trim back the creeping stems. To keep your Roman chamomile close to the ground, mow it down to a couple inches after the chamomile flowers fade.

What is German chamomile good for? ›

Animal studies have shown that German chamomile reduces inflammation, speeds wound healing, reduces muscle spasms, and serves as a mild sedative to help with sleep. Few studies have investigated whether the same is true in people. Test tube studies have shown that chamomile can kill bacteria, fungus, and viruses.

Does chamomile have deep roots? ›

Chamomile has shallow roots, and when it's young, it can be traumatized by a lack of water. Once it's gotten its legs, a well-established plant can handle a little drought. Plants need about an inch of water in total each week.

What's the difference between chamomile and German chamomile? ›

Roman Chamomile has a light, fresh apple fragrance, and German Chamomile smells more like sweet straw. Medicinally, both varieties are used for calming and soothing skin, inflammation, fevers, and the nervous and digestive systems, as well as inducing perspiration to flush out toxins, allergens and infections.

Which chamomile is best? ›

Egyptian chamomile: Native to the lush valley along the Nile River in Egypt, this variety of chamomile produced is considered to be the highest-grade, best chamomile in the world! The tea made from Egyptian chamomile herb has a warm, earthy flavor with a pleasant fruity aroma.

Are chamomile plants endangered? ›

It is classified as Vulnerable and is therefore considered to be facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. Its decline has been caused by clearance of heaths, drainage of winter-wet grasslands, loss of pastures to arable fields, and reduced grazing on commons.

What can you not plant with chamomile? ›

Mint is not a good companion plant with chamomile. Chamomile can prevent mint plants nearby from producing the oil that gives mint plants their minty scent.

What pests does chamomile repel? ›

Landscape Designer Specializing in Plants that Repel Bugs
  • Catnip repels ants, Japanese beetles, and cockroaches. ...
  • Chamomile repels flying insects. ...
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18 Jan 2016

Where should I plant chamomile? ›

Chamomile blooms best in a location with full sun, but it will grow in partial shade, too. In fact, in hot Southern climates, chamomile benefits from a bit of afternoon shade, which will help keep the blooms from drooping.

Does chamomile attract aphids? ›

Aphids can chomp down on chamomile. Powdery mildew is the most common problem with scented mayweed, but it is a concern only when the weather is hot and damp for prolonged periods of time. Aphids, thrips, and mealybugs can bother M. chamomilla as well, but the plant is generally pest and problem free.

How do I make my chamomile bushy? ›

Cut back the chamomile after a flush of flowering or if the plants develop weak, leggy stems at midseason. Trim the leave and stems back to within 4 inches of the ground with clean shears to force a new flush of growth and encourage stem branching and additional flower bud production.

How much space does chamomile need? ›

Plant chamomile correctly and at the right time.

Plant Roman chamomile when soil temperatures reach 45°F. Space both types of plants 8 inches – 12 inches apart. If growing from seed, scatter chamomile seeds and lightly cover them with dirt. Keep soil moist until the seeds sprout.

Is chamomile good for high blood pressure? ›

Chamomile tea is a great tea for high blood pressure. Chamomile is a natural relaxant and can help to calm the mind and body. The tea can help to lower blood pressure and improve overall heart health.

Is chamomile tea good for kidneys? ›

Drinking chamomile tea daily with meals may help prevent the complications of diabetes, which include loss of vision, nerve damage, and kidney damage, researchers in Japan and the United Kingdom are reporting.

Does chamomile tea increase estrogen? ›

A 2004 study found that chamomile tea might have anti-estrogenic effects. It also helped promote bone density, but the study's authors caution that further research is needed to prove this apparent benefit.

Will chamomile reseed itself? ›

German Chamomile commonly reseeds itself, so saving seed is often not necessary for continued harvests year after year. Just leave a few flowers in the garden to set seed and they will sow themselves next season. Chamomile prefers full sun, but will tolerate some shade. Dry at room temperature in a single layer.

Can chamomile survive frost? ›

Frost tolerant

Young seedlings easily tolerate spring frosts, and may survive winters in mild climates.

How long does chamomile flowers last? ›

You can also dry them in the dehydrator at the lowest possible setting. When the flowers are dry and cool, store them in a sealed glass jar for up to six months.

How tall does German chamomile get? ›

The leaves are feathery. It is a perennial. German chamomile looks similar to Roman chamomile with the differences being that German chamomile grows upright to the height of about 1 to 2 feet (30 to 61 cm.), and is a reseeding annual.

Can you grow chamomile in pots? ›

Chamomile will grow happily in any type of container, as long as it has a drainage hole. Drainage is critical because like most herbs, potted chamomile plants are likely to rot in soggy soil. For the same reason, use a loose, well-drained potting mixture.

Which chamomile is most medicinal? ›

but the two most sought-after for their medicinal benefits are German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and Roman or English Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile or Anthemis nobilis). We take a look at both plants referred to as chamomile, and outline the differences in taste, aroma, appearance and health benefits.

What do you do with chamomile in the winter? ›

Move potted chamomile plants indoors in winter to keep them alive in colder climates. The University of Maryland Extension recommends moving the plants to a cool and very bright room away from the dry, hot air produced by forced air heating.

Does chamomile bloom all summer? ›

Harvesting chamomile is a continuous activity, since chamomile flowers will bloom all summer long, especially if picked regularly. So, get ready to harvest chamomile blossoms all summer! Good thing, it's easy to do. Chamomile flowers are ready to harvest when they are at full bloom.

Is chamomile toxic to cats? ›

Chamomile is generally not harmful in small doses, but can cause severe effects to felines if large amounts are ingested or if the plant is consumed over a long period of time. Chamomile contains a variety of potentially harmful substances, including tannic acid, anthemic acid, chamazulene, bisabolol, and volatile oil.

What does the chamomile plant smell like? ›

The flower smells like apples, and the essential oil derived from the yellow and white flowers of this plant is blue due to high levels of azulene. Traditionally German chamomile has been used to calm, feed and soothe the nervous system and to support good digestion.

Is German chamomile edible? ›

Is Chamomile Edible? Yes, chamomile leaves and flowers are both perfectly safe to eat, with a couple of caveats. Be sure the herb hasn't been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. Use chamomile with care if you're allergic to ragweed, as chamomile may trigger allergic reactions in some individuals.

Is German chamomile an anti-inflammatory? ›

German chamomile is useful for treatment of stomachache, irritable bowel syndrome, and insomnia. It possess anti-inflammatory (15–17) and bactericidal, relaxant activities. It also has acaricidal properties.

Are ants attracted to chamomile? ›

They suck the juices from leaves and stems and cause weak growth. They also attract ants with the honeydew they excrete, and the honeydew can grow a black sooty mold on it as well.

How do I keep ants off my chamomile plant? ›

Use another wet paper towel to rub any sap or residue from your leaf or chamomile to prevent additional aphids or harmful insects like ants from attacking your plant.

Is chamomile safe for dogs? ›

Chamomile is a daisy-like plant commonly used for herbal teas. Best known for its calming properties, chamomile is safe for dogs and full of healthy benefits. In fact, it is actually one of the safest herbs you can offer your pet! Chamomile has anti-inflammatory, sedative, and antispasmodic properties.

Which is better for skin Roman or German chamomile? ›

However, German Chamomile is considered to be superior to Roman Chamomile as it contains higher levels of Chamazulene. Tests of these constituents revealed that Matricin was particularly therapeutic for sensitive skin, with far superior anti-inflammatory and regenerative properties.

Which chamomile is best to grow for tea? ›

Chamomile Tea Plant Info

Roman chamomile is a low growing perennial. Both produce similar aromatic blooms, but German is the more commonly grown for use in teas.

Can you mow a chamomile lawn? ›

One of the main benefits of a chamomile lawn is that it doesn't require much in the way of care. If weeds crop up, pull them out manually, and refrain from using herbicides. If you like, you can mow or hand trim once in late summer to remove dead flower heads and keep plants looking more manicured.

Is German chamomile an annual or perennial? ›

Planting and Growing

While German chamomile is an annual, Roman and dyer's chamomile are considered perennial in zones 4-7, but they are short-lived perennials and often grown as annuals, re-sowing seeds every year or two or allowed to self-sow. Chamomile can be grown from seed easily and self-sows vigorously.

Is Matricaria a perennial? ›

Matricaria can be either hardy annuals or perennials, but are usually grown as half hardy annuals by gardeners.

Is German chamomile invasive? ›

Notes: German Chamomile, also known as Matricaria recutita, has a long history of medicinal uses, cultivated globally and occasionally escapes cultivation but is not known to invade high quality habitat.

Does German chamomile spread? ›

German chamomile spreads easily by self-seeding. Start seeds indoors about six weeks before the last expected frost. Chamomile seeds need light to germinate, so scatter them and press them firmly onto the soil, but do not cover the seeds with soil.

Should you pinch chamomile? ›

Harvesting and Storing Chamomile

The proper way to pick chamomile flowers is by pinching off the blossoms individually. The entire stem should remain planted in the ground; do not tamper with the stem to allow regrowth.

Does German chamomile survive winter? ›

German Chamomile Climate

It is a resilient plant that can survive night temperatures as low as 14°F (-10°C).

Does German chamomile reseed? ›

German chamomile tends to reseed readily if the flowers are allowed to remain on the plant. Roman chamomile will form a groundcover.

Will chamomile reseed itself? ›

German Chamomile commonly reseeds itself, so saving seed is often not necessary for continued harvests year after year. Just leave a few flowers in the garden to set seed and they will sow themselves next season. Chamomile prefers full sun, but will tolerate some shade. Dry at room temperature in a single layer.

Is German chamomile frost hardy? ›

These are winter-hardy but need some additional protection from frost. You can, for example, spread a mulch layer of leaves over the young plants. If German chamomile is sown in late spring, there is no need for frost protection.

What can you not plant next to camomile? ›

Mint is not a good companion plant with chamomile. Chamomile can prevent mint plants nearby from producing the oil that gives mint plants their minty scent.

Can chamomile tolerate frost? ›

Hardiness: Chamomile is cold hardy to -20°F; it can be short-lived in hot summer regions.

When should chamomile be planted? ›

Plant chamomile in the spring from either seeds or plants. It's easier to establish chamomile herb in your garden from plants or divisions than from seeds, but growing chamomile from seed is also relatively easy. Chamomile grows best in cool conditions and should be planted in part shade, but will also grow full sun.

How do you stop chamomile from spreading? ›

The low-growing Roman chamomile spreads out quickly, so you might need to cut it back to keep it contained as a ground cover. Simply use clean, sharp clippers to trim back the creeping stems. To keep your Roman chamomile close to the ground, mow it down to a couple inches after the chamomile flowers fade.

How long does German chamomile take to flower? ›

In 6-10 weeks after germination, chamomile plants will generally be in full bloom and continue to produce new blooms right up until frost covers the area. These blooms are harvested throughout the growing season for healing and relaxing teas, or to be used for skin and hair care.

How long does it take for German chamomile to grow? ›

Wait about 60-65 days for the plants to mature.

It usually takes about two months from the time the seeds are planted for chamomile to produce flowers. This should occur by early to mid-summer, or about two weeks after you're transplanted indoor seedlings.

What's the difference between Roman chamomile and German chamomile? ›

Roman Chamomile has a light, fresh apple fragrance, and German Chamomile smells more like sweet straw. Medicinally, both varieties are used for calming and soothing skin, inflammation, fevers, and the nervous and digestive systems, as well as inducing perspiration to flush out toxins, allergens and infections.

Where should I plant chamomile? ›

Chamomile blooms best in a location with full sun, but it will grow in partial shade, too. In fact, in hot Southern climates, chamomile benefits from a bit of afternoon shade, which will help keep the blooms from drooping.

Is Matricaria annual or perennial? ›

Matricaria plants carry white daisy like flowers and golden pompom shaped flowers. These are often used to create herbal drinks. Matricaria can be either hardy annuals or perennials, but are usually grown as half hardy annuals by gardeners.

What temperature can chamomile tolerate? ›

Chamomile can tolerate in a really wide range of temperatures, all the way from 30-100°F. But it will grow best when temperatures range between 60-85°F.

Do chamomile plants spread? ›

Chamomile Care Must-Knows

Roman chamomile does best in well-drained, sandy soil, full sun to part shade, and cool summer climates. It tolerates a little drought. Grow it from seed and see how it spreads over time via creeping stems that root as they move across the soil.

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