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What is Chamaemelum?

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  • Written By: J.M. Densing
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
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Chamaemelum is a hardy perennial plant with petite daisy-like flowers. Its common name is Roman chamomile, and it’s also known as chamomile, garden chamomile, dog fennel, or ground apple. It's one of several plants known as chamomile, and was formerly known as Anthemis nobilis. It grows well in a temperate climate, both as a wildflower and as an easy-to-care for garden plant. Chamaemelum also has several other uses, such as the well known soothing herbal tea, and other reputed medicinal applications.

The chamaemelum plant typically grows to a height of 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) and can spread out to a width as large as 12 inches (30 cm). The plant tends to branch out in many directions, with long slender stems. The leaves are medium green, occasionally with a fuzzy silvery look, and delicately fringed. The flowers look much like small daisies, with a flattened yellow central disc surrounded by a multitude of narrow white petals. The flowers and leaves have an apple-like scent that is released when they are rubbed or crushed.

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In the wild, the native area of chamaemelum is Western Europe, and it grows freely in countries such as Great Britain, Ireland, France and the Mediterranean region. It does well in a temperate climate with defined seasons, flowering in the late spring through the summer. It is a perennial plant, meaning it will grow again in the same place year after year, and it spreads quickly under optimum growing conditions. Planted in gardens it requires minimal care and will sometimes spread to surrounding areas.

Common uses of chamaemelum in the garden include borders, flower beds, ground cover, rock gardens, herb gardens, and it can even be used as a lawn substitute. The best times to plant the seeds are either early spring or early fall when the weather is cool. Once plants mature, they will spread using stems that creep along the ground and then take root. It grows well in well-drained medium to sandy soils, and doesn't need to be fertilized. Ideally it should be planted in full sun to part shade. It should be watered on a regular basis, but it can survive drought conditions if they occur.

There are several uses for chamaemelum outside the garden. It can be used cosmetically to make a rinse for blond hair. The flowers are occasionally used in salads, and the leaves can be used for seasoning. The flower heads and leaves are also the primary active ingredient in chamomile tea, an herbal tea known for its calming, soothing properties. Chamomile tea is also supposed to be a remedy for headaches, digestive issues, and colds or flu.

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