Strolling along the east side of the garden here in the Sleeping Child holler, particularly from the greenhouse to my cabin, the distinct scent of pineapple wafts up from the carpet of weeds covering the hardened, sandy ground. The tiny yellow flowering tops and feathery, carrot-like foliage are actually Matricaria discoidea; wild chamomile (also known as pineapple weed.)
It’s not quite the German (true) or Roman Chamomiles of the “Sleepytime” tea variety but is edible and even medicinal nonetheless. In the Asteraceae family, it is related to sunflowers, daisies and asters, most of the family prefers arid and semi-arid places to call home. In reading “Weeds and What They Tell Us,” by Ehrenfried E. Pfeiffer, a biodynamic pioneer, I learned that they denote ground that is hard-packed on the surface (can commonly grow near highways and over dirt roads where cars pack down the soil – not the best places for harvesting!) and that if growing in smaller quantities suggest that wheat may grow really well in the soil there.
Though by the time the plant flowers it may be too bitter to readily eat, they can be pretty additions to salads or soup garnishes. Medicinally it’s very similar to German Chamomile in that it can be used for gastrointestinal upset, infected sores, fevers, for anemic conditions in new mothers and for stress relief.
Also, if you pick some and crush it then rub it on your skin, it can be a great temporary insect repellant!
It’s a nice scent to walk through everyday, and due the fact that they mow the grounds here every week, it’s all short yet extremely branch-y. That means lots and lots of flowering heads. Farther to bend over, but more to harvest!
Check this video out for a better view of the herb: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kn6pv1K3JZc