Herb: Camomile

Latin name: Chamaemelum nobile

Synonyms: Anthemis nobilis

Family: Compositae

Medicinal use of Camomile:

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. A tea is made from the flowers and this should be prepared in a closed vessel to prevent loss of the essential oils. The flowers are anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, nervine, stomachic, tonic, vasodilator. The single-flowered form is the most potent medicinally, though it can in large doses damage the lining of the stomach and bowels. For this reason, the double-flowered form is usually preferred since this contains less of the alkaloid that causes the problem. The flowers are gathered in the summer when they are fully open and are distilled for their oil or dried for later use. They should not be stored for longer than 12 months. The whole herb is used to make a lotion for external application in the treatment of toothache, earache, neuralgia etc. The essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Its keyword is "Soothing".

Description of the plant:


15 cm
(6 inches)

to July


Habitat of the herb:

Sandy commons, pastures and grassy roadsides.

Edible parts of Camomile:

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

Other uses of the herb:

An infusion of the flowers is used as a hair shampoo, especially for fair hair. It is also used as a liquid feed and general plant tonic, effective against a number of plant diseases. It has fungicidal properties and its use is said to prevent damping off in seedlings. The flowers are an ingredient of "QR" herbal compost activator. 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. The whole plant was formerly used as a strewing herb. The whole plant is insect repellent both when growing and when dried. An essential oil from the whole plant is used as a flavouring and in perfumery. Yellow to gold dyes are obtained from the flowers. The plant makes a very good ground cover and can also be used as an edging plant. It does tend to become bare in patches.

Propagation of Camomile:

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.

Cultivation of the herb:

Sandy commons, pastures and grassy roadsides.

Known hazards of Chamaemelum nobile:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.