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Chamaemelum nobile - (L.)All.                
Common Name Chamomile, Roman chamomile
Family Asteraceae or Compositae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards Patients with severe allergic responses to ragweed (ragwort) should be warned about the possible cross-sensitivity to chamomile and other members of the Asteraceae/Compositae family (e.g. echinacea, feverfew, milk thistle).
Habitats Sandy commons, pastures and grassy roadsides[17].
Range Western Europe, including Britain, from Belgium south to N. Africa and the Azores.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun


Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of flower
Chamaemelum nobile is an evergreen Perennial growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 0.3 m (1ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Jun to July, and the seeds ripen from Jul to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, beetles, self.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.

Synonyms Anthemis nobilis. Anacyclus aureus. Anthemis aurea. Chamomilla nobilis.
Chamaemelum nobile Chamomile, Roman chamomile

Chamaemelum nobile Chamomile, Roman chamomile
 Ground Cover; Lawn; Cultivated Beds; East Wall. In. South Wall. In. West Wall. In.
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts:
Edible Uses: Condiment;  Tea.

Young sprigs are used as a seasoning and a flavouring in herb beers[15, 183]. The fresh or dried flowers are used to make herb teas[21, 37, 183]. This has a strong aromatic odour and a bitter flavour, especially the single-flowered form[4]. The whole herb is used for making herbal beers[4].
Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Anodyne;  Antianxiety;  Antiinflammatory;  Antispasmodic;  Aromatherapy;  Nervine;  Stomachic;  Tonic;  Vasodilator.

Camomile is a common herb with a long history of safe and effective medicinal use - it is widely used as a household herbal remedy. It is particularly useful as a remedy for various problems of the digestive system, as a sedative and a nervine, it is especially suited for young children[4, 20, 21]. A tea is made from the flowers and this should be prepared in a closed vessel to prevent loss of the essential oils[4]. The flowers are anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, nervine, stomachic, tonic, vasodilator[4, 14, 21, 37, 165, 201]. The single-flowered form is the most potent medicinally, though it can in large doses damage the lining of the stomach and bowels[4]. For this reason, the double-flowered form is usually preferred since this contains less of the alkaloid that causes the problem[4]. The flowers are gathered in the summer when they are fully open and are distilled for their oil or dried for later use[238]. They should not be stored for longer than 12 months[238]. The whole herb is used to make a lotion for external application in the treatment of toothache, earache, neuralgia etc[4]. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is 'Soothing'[210]. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Chamaemelum nobile for coughs and bronchitis, fevers and colds, inflammations of the skin, inflammation of the mouth and pharynx, tendency to infection - improve immunity, wounds and burns (see [302] for critics of commission E).
Other Uses
Compost;  Dye;  Essential;  Fungicide;  Hair;  Liquid feed;  Repellent;  Strewing.

An infusion of the flowers is used as a hair shampoo, especially for fair hair[14, 20, 168]. It is also used as a liquid feed and general plant tonic[14], effective against a number of plant diseases[18, 20, 201]. It has fungicidal properties and its use is said to prevent damping off in seedlings[238]. The flowers are an ingredient of 'QR' herbal compost activator[32]. This is a dried and powdered mixture of several herbs that can be added to a compost heap in order to speed up bacterial activity and thus shorten the time needed to make the compost[K]. The whole plant was formerly used as a strewing herb[4, 168]. The whole plant is insect repellent both when growing and when dried[14, 20]. An essential oil from the whole plant is used as a flavouring and in perfumery[46]. Yellow to gold dyes are obtained from the flowers[168]. The plant makes a very good ground cover[197] and can also be used as an edging plant[200]. It does tend to become bare in patches[208].
Cultivation details                                         
Tolerates most well-drained soils, preferring a dry sandy soil and a sunny position[4, 37, 200]. Tolerates partial shade[16]. Established plants are drought tolerant[190]. Can be grown in grass[54]. Tolerates a pH in the range 6.8 to 8. Plants are hardy to at least -15°c[200]. They often deteriorate in very wet or cold winters, but usually recover quickly in the spring and early summer[238]. Chamomile is commonly grown in the domestic herb garden, it is also cultivated commercially for its flowers which are used in herb teas and medicinally. The double-flowered form is highly regarded for its medicinal virtues[165]. Plants can be invasive when growing in good conditions[188], though they are easy to control[K]. There is some confusion between this plant (which is a perennial) and the annual chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) as to which is the genuine medicinal chamomile. Some reports say that this plant is the most effective herbally[4], whilst others says that Matricaria is more potent[9]. Both plants seem to have very similar properties and either can probably be used quite successfully. Camomile is a very good companion plant, promoting the health of plants it is growing close to, it is especially good for growing near cabbages, onions and, in small quantities, wheat[4, 14, 20, 54, 201, 238]. The cultivar 'Treneague' is a low-growing non-flowering form that makes an excellent ground cover[197]. Fairly tolerant of being walked on, it is sometimes used instead of grass for making a lawn though it is more difficult to maintain and can become weed infested, especially in its early stages[200]. It also tends to become bare in places[208]. The whole plant has a pungent aroma, this being especially noticeable on hot days or when the plant is bruised.
Seed - sow March in a cold frame. Only just cover the seed and do not let the compost dry out. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer. Division in spring or autumn. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer or following spring. Basal cuttings in spring. Harvest the shoots when they are about 5cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.
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Expert comment                                         
Botanical References                                         
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[9]Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants in Europe. a drawing of each plant, quite a bit of interesting information.
[14]Holtom. J. and Hylton. W. Complete Guide to Herbs.
A good herbal.
[15]Bryan. J. and Castle. C. Edible Ornamental Garden.
A small book with interesting ideas for edible plants in the ornamental garden.
[16]Simons. New Vegetable Growers Handbook.
A good guide to growing vegetables in temperate areas, not entirely organic.
[17]Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles.
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
[18]Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B. Companion Plants.
Details of beneficial and antagonistic relationships between neighbouring plants.
[20]Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening.
Fairly good.
[21]Lust. J. The Herb Book.
Lots of information tightly crammed into a fairly small book.
[32]Bruce. M. E. Commonsense Compost Making.
Excellent little booklet dealing with how to make compost by using herbs to activate the heap. Gives full details of the herbs that are used.
[37]Thompson. B. The Gardener's Assistant.
Excellent general but extensive guide to gardening practices in the 19th century. A very good section on fruits and vegetables with many little known species.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[54]Hatfield. A. W. How to Enjoy your Weeds.
Interesting reading.
[165]Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism.
An excellent small herbal.
[168]Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants.
A very good and readable book on dyeing.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[188]Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers
Excellent range of photographs, some cultivation details but very little information on plant uses.
[190]Chatto. B. The Dry Garden.
A good list of drought resistant plants with details on how to grow them.
[197]Royal Horticultural Society. Ground Cover Plants.
A handy little booklet from the R.H.S.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[201]Allardice.P. A - Z of Companion Planting.
A well produced and very readable book.
[208]Thomas. G. S. Plants for Ground Cover
An excellent detailled book on the subject, very comprehensive.
[210]Westwood. C. Aromatherapy - A guide for home use.
An excellent little pocket guide. Very concise.
[238]Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
[301]Karalliedde. L. and Gawarammana. I. Traditional Herbal Medicines
A guide to the safer use of herbal medicines.
[302]From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Commission E

Readers comment                                         
Elizabeth H.
Jared Ondigo Fri Nov 27 2009
i am growing chamomile in Kenya and also looking for market, the information given on this page is very good and informative
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