Common Name: Chamomile
Botanical Name: Matricaria chamomilla
Place of origin: Chamomile is originally native to Europe, Africa, and Asia. There is evidence that shows that the Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians all cultivated this herb for medicinal use. Today, it is still grown across these continents and in North America.
Ideal growing conditions: To grow chamomile from either seed or transplants, start in early spring. If you are starting with seeds, you may find it trickier because you will have to plant them indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the expected final frost date. Once spring comes, plant your seedlings or transplants in full sun and healthy soil. Space the plants 8-10 inches apart and make sure to water it frequently.
Parts of the Plant to use: To make chamomile tea, you will want to harvest the blossoms by snipping off the flower with a pair of garden or kitchen scissors, or simply plucking them off. Ideally, you will want to harvest the blossoms when they are in full bloom. Chamomile grows quickly, so you will be able to harvest the flowers multiple times over the summer.
Benefits/Properties: Chamomile can be used to reduce menstrual pain, slow or prevent osteoporosis, help with sleep and relaxation, and reduce inflammation. The most common properties are its antioxidants, and ability to help you fall asleep.
Suggested Uses: The best, and most popular way to get the benefits of chamomile is with chamomile tea.
Culinary: There are no culinary recipes that use chamomile.
Medicinal: To make chamomile tea, you will first need to clean and dry the flowers you have harvested. Start by soaking the blossoms in a basin or rinsing them in a colander to remove any dirt or insects. Gently pat them dry and then spread them on a tray or screen, and leave them in a dry, dark spot for two weeks. Once they are dry, store them in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. To make the tea, add 2-3 teaspoons of the dried chamomile and add it to a cup of boiling water. Let the tea steep for 3-5 mins, and then at this point, you can either remove the dried flowers or leave them in. Stir in a spoonful of honey if you wish and enjoy!