Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla): A Complete Guide

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is one of several different species in the daisy family (Asteraceae) that have the common name chamomile. It is widely used in traditional medicine to treat all kinds of diseases, including infections, neuropsychiatric, respiratory, gastrointestinal, and liver disorders. It is an annual herb that grows on all soil types and is resistant to cold. M. chamomilla is native to southern and eastern Europe and northern and western Asia. Nowadays, it is widely distributed all around the world.

Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)

Today, two types of chamomile are still commonly used as a herbal medicine: German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), the most widely used, and Roman or English chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile).

Chamomile comes in many forms. You can find it in capsules, tablets, liquid extracts, oils, or skin creams and ointments. In the U.S., chamomile is best known as an ingredient in herbal tea.

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Taxonomic Classification of Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)

Taxonomic RankClassification
SpeciesMatricaria chamomilla

Habitat and Distribution of Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)

  • Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.) is one of the significant medicinal herbs native to southern and eastern Europe.
  • It is also grown in Germany, Hungary, France, Russia, Yugoslavia, and Brazil.
  • The plants grow in North Africa, Asia, North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • It was introduced into India during the Mughal period and is presently grown in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Jammu & Kashmir.
  •  Hungary is the largest producer of plant biomass. In Hungary, it grows abundantly in poor soils and provides a source of income for the poor inhabitants of these places.
  • It is is commonly found in meadows, grasslands, pastures, and along roadside verges. It has adapted to a wide range of soil types and can be found in both dry and moist environments.
  • It thrives in well-drained soil with good sunlight exposure. It can tolerate slightly acidic to slightly alkaline soil pH levels. The plant enjoys open spaces with minimal shade, enabling it to bathe in sunlight for best growth.
  • In the United Kingdom, wild chamomile blooms from late spring to early autumn. It blooms most abundantly throughout the summer months, from June to August.

Anatomy and Morphology of Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)

  • True chamomile is an annual plant with slender, spindle-shaped roots that only penetrate the soil horizontally.
  • The branched stem is erect and strongly expanded, reaching a height of 10-80 cm.
  • The tall and slender leaves are bi- or tripinnate.
  • The flower heads are placed separately and have a diameter of 10-30 mm. They are pedunculate and heterogamous.
  • The golden yellow tubular florets with 5 teeth measure 1.5-2.5 mm in length and invariably finish in a glandulous tube.
  • The 11-27 white plant blossoms measure 6-11 mm long, 3.5 mm broad, and are grouped concentrically. The receptacle is 6-8 mm broad, flat at first and conical, cone-shaped subsequently, hollow—the latter being a very essential distinguishing feature of Matricaria—and lacks paleae.
  • The fruit is a yellowish brown achene.

How to Grow and Care Chamomile

German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is an annual plant that typically returns year after. It may appear to be a perennial, similar to Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), which blooms each year. Both are simple to care for in the garden and require very few additional resources to thrive. German chamomile has more blossoms, but Roman chamomile has more fragrant blooms.

Chamomile isn’t often a good bedding plant because it seems too floppy and insignificant when paired with more formal and imposing plants. It can, however, be used for underplanting in a herb or vegetable garden, to soften rock wall edges, and as a container plant. Indoors, chamomile thrives in a south- or west-facing window with at least four to six hours of direct sunlight. The soil should be kept moist but not too damp.

  • Light: Both Roman and German chamomile thrive in either full sun or light shade. The plants will flower best in full sun, but in hot climates, a bit of partial shade is a better choice (especially during the hot afternoon hours) to avoid burning the delicate blooms. More sunlight typically results in faster growth, but this plant grows quickly by nature.
  • Soil: Rich, organic soil is ideal for the finest flowering results from both varieties of chamomile. While they can endure in inferior mixtures, their stems will frequently become more floppier as a result. While chamomile does not mind the pH of the soil, it does prefer a neutral range of 5.6 to 7.5.
  • Water: Give young chamomile plants one inch of water every seven days. The plants become drought-tolerant as they mature and establish themselves. It’s preferable to let plants dry out in between light waterings. Nonetheless, chamomile will benefit from a little bit extra moisture in very hot temperatures.
  • Humidity and Temperature: Chamomile can grow in any summer climate that isn’t over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Its ideal temperature range is between sixty and sixty-eight degrees Fahrenheit. It can withstand drought, thus it doesn’t do well in very humid environments.
  • Fertilizer: Fertilizer is not necessary for chamomile, as it develops rapidly without any specific feeding.
  • Trimming: Regrowth and increased bloom production are encouraged by trimming. Deadhead faded flowers to promote the growth of new buds or gather fresh flowers as they bloom for use in tea.

How to Propagate Chamomile

Different propagation techniques are used for Roman and German chamomile. Roman chamomile is best propagated by division. German chamomile reproduces best from seed. Both ought to be planted in the early spring, once the risk of frost has passed. Splitting Roman chamomile helps prevent overcrowding of this quickly spreading plant.

Propagating Roman chamomile

The best way to multiply Roman chamomile is by division in the spring, right before the new growth appears. Cut the clump into smaller pieces after lifting it out of the ground with a shovel. Verify the roots in each portion are still intact. It is also possible to trim off a portion of the plant with roots if you are reproducing it from a big mat. Plant the parts again at the same height as the parent plant, giving them plenty of water until they take root.

Propagating German chamomile

It is best started indoors six to eight weeks prior to the final expected date of frost. It is best started from seed. Fill 4-inch pots with moist potting mix and add the seeds. Since they require sunshine to germinate, don’t cover them. Maintain them equally moist and at a temperature of 60 to 75 degrees. The seedlings require lots of sunlight after they emerge, so after the last chance of frost, move them outside and set them in a bright window facing south or west or under grow lights.

Here’s a common method applicable for propagating Chamomile

  • If you are not planting inground, you will need potting soil, pruners or a spade, and a container that is at least 6 inches deep.
  • Cut off a portion of the plant leaving the roots in place since Roman chamomile spreads by runners. To extract it from the parent plant, dig it up and cut it off with clippers.
  • To cut through the dirt and roots of a larger clump, use a spade. Remove the part and transplant the plant by putting the plant and its roots in a pot filled with soil or in a hole that has been made in the ground. The plant ought to be planted at soil level. Fill in areas around the plant with soil.
  • Till new growth appears, keep the soil moist.

Potting and Repotting Chamomile

Repotting chamomile is best done in the spring when the plant is ready for a busy growing season. If a plant dries out too soon after watering or if roots protrude through drainage openings, these are indicators that it is overcrowded.

  • To prevent waterlogging, select a new pot that is one size larger than the existing one. Make sure it has a hole for drainage, and think about using a plastic pot for portability or a terracotta pot for ventilation.
  • After tipping the pot, gently extract the chamomile. Squeeze the pot or pry with a chopstick to encourage the roots to release their hold if they resist. To lessen stress, try to keep as much dirt near the roots as you can.
  • Examine the roots carefully, and use sanitized pruners to cut away any that are too long or dead. This is an update for healthier growth, not a shrinking project.
  • Remove any loose or inferior soil and plant the chamomile in the middle of the freshly filled pot.
  • Make sure the chamomile plant is at the same depth by surrounding it with fresh potting mix.
  • Gently tamp the dirt to remove any air pockets.
  • Use a little water to help the soil settle, but avoid making it a swamp.
  • Now give care and love to the plant as for the previous one.

Chemical Composition and Active Components of Chamomile Plant

Active CompoundChemical ClassificationUses
ChamazuleneSesquiterpenesAnti-inflammatory, Antioxidant
ApigeninFlavonoidsAnti-anxiety, Anti-inflammatory, Antioxidant
BisabololSesquiterpenesAnti-inflammatory, Anti-irritant,
FlavonoidsPolyphenolsAntioxidant, Anti-inflammatory
CoumarinsPolyphenolsAntioxidant, Anti-inflammatory
Volatile oilsEssential oilsAnti-inflammatory, Antispasmodic,
MatricinSesquiterpene lactonesAnti-inflammatory, Antioxidant, skin healing agent
FarneseneSesquiterpenesAntioxidant, Anti-inflammatory,
α-BisabololSesquiterpenesAnti-inflammatory, Antioxidant,
Caffeic AcidPhenolic AcidAnti-inflammatory, Antioxidant,
Coumarin GlycosidesGlycosidesAnti-inflammatory, Antioxidant
LuteolinFlavonoidsAnti-inflammatory, Antioxidant,
QuercetinFlavonoidsAnti-inflammatory, Antioxidant

Benefits/Uses of Chamomile Plant

Skin Conditions: Chamomile is a popular cure for wounds, ulcers, eczema, burns, rashes, and other skin irritations because of its well-known anti-inflammatory and healing qualities. Diaper rash, chickenpox, and even eye infections have all been successfully treated with its treatment.

Gastrointestinal Disturbances: As a digestive relaxant, chamomile is frequently used to treat gastrointestinal complaints like nausea, indigestion, flatulence, and diarrhea. Additionally, it helps with more specialized disorders such as infantile colic and can help alleviate symptoms related to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Sleep and Anxiety: The relaxing properties of chamomile on the nervous system are well-known. It is a mild sedative that can be ingested as a tea or inhaled as an essential oil. It helps reduce anxiety, encourage relaxation, and enhance the quality of sleep. It can be used to treat ailments like hysteria, sleeplessness, and even nightmares.

Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant: Chamomile’s bioactive ingredients, such as flavonoids and essential oils, have strong anti-inflammatory effects. This is what makes chamomile useful for lowering inflammation brought on by a range of ailments, from gastrointestinal issues to skin irritations.

Cancer Prevention and Treatment: Research suggests that chamomile has anticancer potential, especially to substances like apigenin. It may be able to stop tumor growth and cause cancer cells to die while protecting healthy cells, according to research. In this exciting field, research is still being done.

Cardiovascular Health: Studies on the advantages of chamomile’s flavonoid content have indicated a possible reduction in the incidence of coronary heart disease. Larger trials are required to conclusively confirm its efficacy, even if earlier research indicates encouraging outcomes in improving hemodynamic parameters.

Women’s Health: Chamomile has long been used to support uterine health and ease menstrual discomfort. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms and menstrual cramps may be lessened by its relaxing effects. Furthermore, chamomile douche might help with the symptoms of vaginitis.

Bone Health: Chamomile extract can reduce bone loss brought on by age and diseases like osteoporosis by promoting osteoblastic cell development. Still, more investigation is required to ascertain its clinical usefulness.

Immune bolstering and overall health: The health benefits of chamomile include strengthening the immune system and combating infections, especially cold-related ones. Regular chamomile tea drinking may improve general health and well-being.

Regulates blood sugar levels: Chamomile is a very helpful herb for controlling diabetes by decreasing the body’s elevated blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels cause damage to pancreatic cells, which chamomile helps to prevent. Additionally, when consuming this herb, the β pancreatic cells start producing insulin. Regular ingestion helps to lower the amount of starch that is broken down into glucose, which lowers the blood sugar level during fasting.

Wound Healing: Research has demonstrated that chamomile is beneficial in promoting wound drying, epithelialization, and tissue regeneration. These wound-healing qualities are well-established. Topical chamomile extract use can increase wound-breaking strength and hasten the healing process.

In Anorexia Nervosa: Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by anorexia nervosa or lack of appetite. People with anorexia nervosa may benefit from using chamomile oil vapors since they have the potential to improve mood, lessen anxiety, and increase appetite.

Side Effects of Chamomile

In levels typically found in teas, chamomile is probably safe to use. When used orally for brief periods of time for medical purposes, it might be safe. There is no information on the long-term safety of using chamomile topically for medical purposes.

  • Although they are rare, side effects can include allergic reactions, nausea, and dizziness. Rarely, consumers of or contacts with chamomile products have had anaphylaxis, a potentially fatal allergic reaction.
  • If someone is allergic to ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, or daisies, they are more likely to suffer an allergic reaction to chamomile.
  • There have been documented interactions between chamomile and warfarin, a blood thinner, and cyclosporine, a medication used to prevent organ transplant rejection. There are theoretical grounds to believe that chamomile may interact with additional medications as well. If you take any kind of medication, consult your doctor before consuming chamomile.
  • The safety of using chamomile while pregnant or nursing is not well understood.

Pests/Diseases on Chamomile Plant

Albugo tragopogonisWhite rust fungus that affects chamomile crops, causing white pustules on leaves and stems.Ensure proper spacing between plants to promote airflow. Apply fungicides if necessary, following label instructions.
Powdery MildewFungal infection by various species (e.g., Erysiphe cichoracearum) resulting in powdery white patches on leaves and stems.Maintain good air circulation around plants. Avoid overhead watering. Apply fungicides early in the season as a preventive measure.
Leaf BlightPractice crop rotation to prevent the buildup of pathogens in soil. Remove and destroy infected plant debris. Apply fungicides if needed.Practice crop rotation to prevent buildup of pathogens in soil. Remove and destroy infected plant debris. Apply fungicides if needed.
Yellow VirusChlorogenus callistephi var. californicus Holmes, Callistephus virus 1A, causes severe damage by affecting plant health and productivity.Use disease-free seeds and plants for cultivation. Monitor plants regularly for symptoms and remove infected ones promptly.
AphidsSmall insects that feed on sap, causing distorted leaves, yellowing, and sooty mold growth.Encourage natural predators like ladybugs and lacewings. Use insecticidal soaps or neem oil to control aphid populations. Maintain plant hygiene to reduce infestation.
Larvae and BeetlesVarious species such as Plodia interpunctella, Ptinus latro, and Gibbium psylloides damage stored chamomile products by feeding on them and contaminating them with excreta and webs.Store dried chamomile in airtight containers to prevent access to pests. Regularly inspect stored products and discard infested ones. Use traps or insecticides as necessary.
FusariumPlant chamomile in well-drained soil and avoid overwatering. Rotate crops to prevent the buildup of pathogens. Use fungicides if necessary.Another fungal infection causes leaf spots and defoliation in chamomile plants.
Septoria chamomillaeAnother fungal infection causing leaf spots and defoliation in chamomile plants.Practice good sanitation practices, including removing and destroying infected plant debris. Use fungicides as a preventive measure, especially during periods of high humidity.

Chamomile Products

  • Chamomile Tea: widely consumed for its calming effects and ability to promote relaxation and sleep. It is also known for its digestive benefits and soothing properties.
Chamomile Tea []
  • Chamomile Essential Oil: used in aromatherapy for its calming and relaxing effects. It can also be diluted and applied topically to soothe skin irritations and promote healthy skin.s
  • Chamomile Face Cream/Lotion: Skincare products containing chamomile extract are popular for their anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. They can help reduce redness, irritation, and inflammation, making them suitable for sensitive or acne-prone skin.
  • Chamomile Shampoo/Conditioner: Hair care products infused with chamomile extract can help soothe the scalp, reduce itching, and add shine to the hair. Chamomile is also believed to lighten hair naturally over time.
  • Chamomile Skin Cream/Ointment: Chamomile-based creams or ointments are used to soothe skin irritations, such as rashes, sunburns, and eczema. They have anti-inflammatory and healing properties that can help relieve discomfort and promote skin healing.

Interesting Facts about the Chamomile Plant

  • The word chamomile comes from the Greek word “khamaimēlon,” which translates to “earth apple.”
  • People have been enchanted by the herb for ages. Because chamomile reminded them of the sun, the ancient Egyptians dedicated it to their sun deity, Ra. It was employed as a calming agent and inflammatory remedy by the Greeks and Romans. These days, it’s included in scents intended for relaxation.
  • Chamomile is classified as a nervine herb in homeopathy, with two varieties used: Matricaria recutita (German chamomile) and Chamaemelum nobile (Roman chamomile).
  • It is commonly used as a gentle sleep aid and can help overcome insomnia
  • Chamomile is the national flower of Russia.
  • It is also used to treat ailments in animals.

Video on How to Grow and Use Chamomile Plant

YouTube video


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About Author

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Jyoti Bashyal

Jyoti Bashyal, a graduate of the Central Department of Chemistry, is an avid explorer of the molecular realm. Fueled by her fascination with chemical reactions and natural compounds, she navigates her field's complexities with precision and passion. Outside the lab, Jyoti is dedicated to making science accessible to all. She aspires to deepen audiences' understanding of the wonders of various scientific subjects and their impact on the world by sharing them with a wide range of readers through her writing.

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