Matricaria chamomilla | ‘Blue Chamomile’, ‘Chamomile’ | ~1,000 seeds
Matricaria chamomilla (syn. Chamomilla chamomilla, Chamomilla recutita, Matricaria chamomilla var. coronate, Matricaria recutita, Matricaria suaveolens) is an annual plant of the family Asteraceae. Most commonly known as ‘Blue Chamomile’ or ‘Camomile’ / ‘Chamomile’, it’s also been called ‘German Chamomile’, ‘Hungarian Chamomile’, ‘Kamilla’, ‘Physician Plant’, ‘Scented Mayweed’ and ‘Wild Chamomile’.
Native to parts of eastern and southern Europe (although now quite widespread elsewhere), chamomilla grows in USDA Hardiness Zones 2-8 – so prolifically so that it is sometimes considered an invasive species. Forming branching, erect stems up to approximately sixty centimetres tall, its lush green leaves are glossy, long and slender. Small, aromatic flowers (the pollen of which may induce allergic reaction) are white to whitish and extremely rich in the plant’s essential oils. Usually blooming during the first few weeks of summer, the flowers are followed by small, brown-yellow fruit.
We’re definitely biased as to the usefulness of Matricaria chamomilla as a species – especially as ‘we drink ‘Chamomile’ tea almost every day! As the most commonly used ‘Chamomile’, chamomilla has long been used to treat a multitude of health problems, including constipation, gastrointestinal and menstrual cramps, insomnia, irritable bowel syndrome, skin complaints and sleeping problems. It’s also been demonstrated to possess anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and bactericidal properties.
Generally, a quite easy species to grow from seed, chamomilla prefers an acidic to neutral, loamy or sandy soil. Lightly tamp down a layer of soil over the seeds after sowing, as their tiny size means they benefit from a little compression to keep things snug! Keep the soil moist (but not soaking wet) and germination should start to take place after one to two weeks. Once established, place the young plants in full sun to partial shade, spacing them at least fifty centimetres apart so that they have sufficient room to attain their mature size. Water as the top few centimetres of soil starts to completely dry out.
All the seed sold by Arkham’s Botanical was freshly and ethically sourced