Healing Properties and History
Chamomile is one of the oldest medicinal plants humans have used in teas and tinctures. It has many health benefits ranging from treating insomnia to rheumatic pain. Most commonly today, we use chamomile in herbal teas, blending with other herbs to aid with sleep and lower stress levels. However, there are many ways to reap its benefits, such as tinctures for alleviating indigestion and aromatherapy for stress.
Historically, it was used to treat a variety of skin conditions from cuts to burns and bruises. All of the modern research surrounding the chemical makeup of chamomile flowers only tells us of its effectiveness what ancient civilizations knew for thousands of years. These days, people opt for chamomile as a treatment plan because of its minimal side effects despite its slowness to take effect. Both the leaves and the petals can be used to make calming teas and powders.
Growth and Harvest
Chamomile is characterized by small white flowers surrounding gold cones. Although they are native to Europe, they grow well here in full sun and will produce most blooms in summer, growing up to 24 inches tall and about the same length wide. The flowers are effective pollinator attractors, and it is best planted with cucumber to prevent cucumber pests. However, it also thrives with early spring greens- kale, arugula– and summer herbs and flowers.
Apart from the endless health benefits, chamomile is a wonderful flavoring for baked goods, and personally, this chamomile cake recipe is the perfect balance of chamomile flavor and sweetness. The leaves also are a great additive to any summer salad!
Don’t forget, even after all the medicinal and culinary uses, to save some of your chamomile seeds for the next season so you can have summer after summer filled with chamomile teas, tincture, cakes, and oils. These fun rewards come from harvesting the flower and cone at full bloom, preferably before the petals start to droop. If you want to harvest seeds, let some of the cones alone on the plant and they will go to seed.