Whether ‘Common’ (Anthemis nobilis), ‘German’ (Matricaria chamomilla), or ‘stinking’ (Anthemis cotula), Chamomiles look very much alike, with big daisy like flowers on tall stalks with ‘feathery’ leaves. Chamomile is a delicate looking plant but it is surprisingly hardy, although it is no match for herbicides used in agriculture and, like most wildflowers in Britain today, its numbers are declining. So even more reason to create a space for them on our roofs!
Here are some in full bloom on the roof Richardsons Yard in Brighton, just 6 months after installation
The stinky one (Anthemis cotula) also known as Mayweed, Dog camomile and dog fennel, was once used as a remedy for fevers in old Europe as well as for ‘calming the womb’ – Careful though ladies as the sister species known as German Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) can increase or even induce menstruation, so avoid that cup of camomile tea if you are attempting to breed.
For everyone else however, camomile tea before bed will bring you a good nights sleep and banish nightmares whilst also helping with your digestion ? In fact it is a bit of a ‘cure-all’ plant with claims that it helps sooth anxiety, has antioxidant properties that help prevent cancer, balances blood sugars to help with diabetes and is even good for your teeth and skin. It helps opens wounds heal too if applied as a poultice.
The Anglo-Saxons believed that it was one of 9 sacred herbs given to humans by the god Woden (from which we get Wednesday – ‘woden’s day’), who was famously wise and the chief of the Anglo Saxon gods.
And for the winged ones it’s great! The Larvae of the Lime Spec Pug Moth loves all three of the chamomiles particularly. A species which flies at night searching out nectar-rich flowers, its caterpillars were thought to be ‘measuring the earth’ due to the way they move. They only have legs at the front and back and so loop along bringing their back legs to their front legs and then stretching forward as if measuring out their steps.
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