Roman chamomile - Chamaemelum nobile (also known as English chamomile)
A mat forming low growing evergreen perennial with feathery leaves that have an apple scent when walked on, growing to 20cm by 30cm. Can handle the frost. It is in leaf all year, flowering mainly in summer with spot flowering in autumn. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by bees and other insects. The plant is self-fertile. Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very alkaline soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers dry or moist soil and can tolerate drought.
Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) has the same properties as German chamomile (Matricaria recutita). Both the flowers and leaves are edible. Roman chamomile has a light, fresh apple fragrance whereas German chamomile smells more like sweet straw. Roman chamomile is the traditional chamomile used to make tea.
Note - People with severe allergic responses to ragweed (ragwort) should be warned about the possible cross-sensitivity to chamomile and other members of the Asteraceae / Compositae family (e.g. echinacea, feverfew, milk thistle). Reference: https://pfaf.org
German Chamomile - Matricaria recutita
Matricaria recutita is an annual growing to 0.5 m by 0.3 m and is native to southern and eastern Europe. It has been used in herbal medicine for centuries. This variety contains chemicals that seem to promote relaxation and reduce swelling. It has used by people to treat the common cold, indigestion, anxiety, and many other conditions, but there is no scientific evidence to support these uses.
Grow this plant in a sunny position in rich compost soil. Keep damp but not wet.
Both of these chamomile flowers can be used to decorate cakes, platters and salads. Add dried flowers to potpouris, soaps and herbal baths.
How to Harvest Chamomile
Pick flowers first thing in the morning. Select flowers that are not too open or too white. If you want to distill them to make essential oils, harvest the whole plant (leaves, stem and flowers) and use it fresh (or just barely withered). To dry the flowers, tie into bunches and hang upside down in a cool, dry, dark and ventilated place. Store the dried flowers in glass jars protected from light. Stored this way the dried flowers will last up to a year.
Lavender and Chamomile Tea
1/2 cup fresh chamomile flowers (Roman chamomile - Chamaemelum nobile)
1/2 cup fresh lavender flowers
1/2 cup apple mint leaves
2 whole lemons - juiced
1/4 cup honey
Boil water, remove from heat and cool for 1 minute.
Add the chamomile flowers, lavender flowers, and mint leaves to a tea ball and infuse in the hot water. Steep for 5 minutes.
Remove the tea ball or use a fine mesh sieve to strain loose flowers and leaves.
Add lemon juice and honey to hot tea. Serve immediately.
Chamomile Infused Oil This infused oil can be used to make lip balm, soap, body butter, and so much more! Instructions
Fill a small heatproof jar about half way with dried chamomile flowers (German Chamomile - Matricaria recutita).
Pour oil over the flowers until the jar is almost full. You need to leave room for the oil to expand and to allow room for moment when shaking the jar.
Oil - olive oil - soap. Sunflower, almond, rice bran and apricot kernel - lip balms, lotion etc.
Infuse Slow Method - Seal jar tightly and give it a good shake. Place the jar in a dark cupboard and leave for at least four weeks. During this time you will need to shake the jar daily.
Infuse Quick Method (ideal for solid oils like coconut) - Place a saucepan filled with about a third of water over a low heat. Insert the open jar containing the oil and flowers carefully into the saucepan. Leave for around two hours. However, keep a close eye on the saucepan to make sure the water does not evaporate. This method allows you to use the oil immediately. Once you have used what oil you require, top up the jar with more oil, shake and place in dark cupboard for at least four weeks. During this time you will need to shake the jar daily.
When the oil has been infused to your satisfaction, strained to remove the flowers. Store in a dark cupboard. Oil will last for at least 9 months.