The name chamomile is derived from a Greek word meaning 'ground apple.' The plant has an applelike fragrance and flavor. It has long been believed to have gentle healing qualities. The early Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans reportedly used it. In England it was used as a strewing herb for its fresh fragrance, and in Spain it was used to flavor sherry.
This low-growing plant has flowers that are similar to daisies, but smaller. The solid, solitary central disk is deep yellow, and the rays are silver white to cream. The flowers appear at the end of downy stems, often in pairs. The leaves are alternate and divided into threadlike segments covered with feathery fuzz. The fruit is an achene.
Aromatic, cosmetic, culinary, decorative, and medicinal.
Dried leaves and flowers are used to scent potpourris. Chamomile also is used for soothing baths and skin lotions. It adds golden highlights to blonde hair. Fresh flower heads can decorate and flavor fresh salads. Dried leaves are used in tea and mixed with half mineral water for a refreshing beverage. The plant also can be used to make dye (buff, yellow, or gold). Lawns can be created using the low-growing English variety (Chamaemelum nobile), which reaches about 12 inches in height and creeps until it flowers. The taller German variety (Matricaria chamomile) reaches 1 to 2 feet in height and can be used for accent in beds or gardens. The plant is said to have some medicinal qualities.
The fragrant daisylike flowers add beauty to this low ground cover. Once our plants bloomed, they continued to do so for the rest of the growing season, providing much interest. They were especially nice at the edge of the garden.