Formerly “Summer Solstice and Foraging”
When I originally wrote about this in June 2018, I was living in the country and chose to celebrate the changing of the seasons by exploring and searching for wild plants. I spotted herb robert, daisies, and thistles; and harvested field horsetail, pineapple weed (wild chamomile), wild carrot, blackberry leaves, and a single stalk of henbit. At that time, I decided to make a tisane out of the pineapple weed. I noted:
After snipping off the flowers, I washed them thoroughly. Then it was into the mesh strainer and boiling water poured over the top. Since I hadn’t harvested all that much, I let it steep for 15-20 minutes. A half spoonful of raw, local honey stirred in is just enough to enhance the flavor. A flavor which–in my opinion–is simply divine. The flowers smell incredibly sweet and fragrant, and that translates to the flavor and makes an amazing tisane. Not as floral as German chamomile, pineapple weed is sweeter and almost fruity. Many think that the aroma and flavor are reminiscent of pineapple, thus the name.
Pineapple weed (Matricaria discoidea) is also known as wild chamomile. It’s in the Asteraceae or Aster family. While native to Asia, it’s been introduced and is extremely common in the majority of the US and Canada, the UK, and I even found mention of it in Australia. It grows low to the ground in disturbed areas (such as those with lots of foot traffic or on the sides of roads), often in poor or compacted soil. The blooming season is March through September. The flowers have no showy petals (source). I found some accounts that the flavor was similar to that of its domestic relative German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla), but personally I find that the aroma and flavor to be sweeter. The leaves and flowers can both be used for salads or herbal tisanes. For herbal benefits, it’s said to be a fair substitute for German chamomile and can be used as a sedative, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, and digestive aid (source).
Back in May I had the opportunity to go on a short hike in the Columbia River Gorge with a friend. I gleefully pointed out the pineapple weed to her and picked a bit for her to sniff. A few days ago I decided that I wanted to go back and this time harvest some to make into a tea, and my friend was more than happy to join me. Of course I got distracted by something (okay, it was a butterfly) and she ended up being the one to point the plant out to me. I think it’s a tisane worth trying, just keep in mind that where it grows (such as sides of roads) could mean that it’s got residue from vehicles or domestic pollutants. If you’re finding it on a trail or at a state park, you might also want to check the local laws regarding harvesting and wildcrafting.
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