Matricaria chamomilla L.

Wild Chamomile


CC = *
CW = 5
MOC = 18

© SRTurner

Family - Asteraceae/Anthemideae

Habit - Taprooted annual.


© SRTurner

Stems - Ascending to erect, branched, to 60 cm, ridged, usually glabrous. Distinctive, sweet odor from crushed foliage.

Matricaria_chamomilla_stem.jpg Stem.

© SRTurner

Leaves - Alternate, short-petiolate or sessile, with somewhat clasping bases. Blades to 7 cm, oblong in outline, deeply 1-3 times pinnately lobed, the ultimate lobes to 15 mm, linear to threadlike, glabrous.

Matricaria_chamomilla_leaf.jpg Leaf.

© SRTurner

Inflorescences - Solitary heads or loose clusters at branch tips.

Matricaria_chamomilla_inflorescence.jpg Inflorescence.

© SRTurner

Heads - Receptacles strongly convex, conical, tending to elongate with advancing maturity, hollow, naked. Heads radiate, the stalks 2-6 cm long. Involucre 2-3 mm long.

Matricaria_chamomilla_involucre.jpg Involucre.

© SRTurner

Matricaria_chamomilla_heads.jpg Heads.

© SRTurner

Flowers - Ray florets 10-15, perfect, the ligule often becoming deflexed with age, the corolla 4-10 mm long, white. Disc florets numerous, perfect, with the corolla 1.5-2.0 mm long, mostly 5-lobed, yellow. Pappus a short collar or crown (0.2-0.6 mm long).

Matricaria_chamomilla_head.jpg Disk and ray florets.

© SRTurner

Matricaria_chamomilla_receptacle.jpg Head dissection. Receptacle is conical to cylindrical, hollow, naked.

© SRTurner

Flowering - April - October.

Habitat - Fields, roadsides, open disturbed areas.

Origin - Native to Eurasia, Africa.

Lookalikes - Tripleurospermum inodorum, Anthemis spp.; more broadly, Leucanthemum vulgare, Erigeron pulchellus.

Other info. - This is a common species in flood plain areas of the Missouri River, where it can form large stands. The heads appear similar to daisies, but the leaves are much different and the foliage much more aromatic. The aroma also distinguishes this plant from the closely related Tripleurospermum inodorum, which also occurs in Missouri but is scentless and far less common.

The dried foliage and heads of this species have long been used to brew a tea. The fragrant essential oil is also used to scent cosmetics.

Photographs taken near Augusta, St. Charles County, MO, 5-9-2009, 5-4-2011 and 4-10-2012, and at Shaw Nature Reserve, Franklin County, MO, 6-13-2021 (SRTurner).