Pineapple weed (Matricarla discoidea ), is a wild relative of chamomile (Matricaria recutia) that has been used in folk medicine for many years. Also called disc mayweed, pineapple weed is easy to find, and a great alternative to its herbal cousin, chamomile.
Like chamomile, pineapple weed helps with tension and nervous stress. When enjoyed as a tea, it can relieve insomnia and upset stomach. To make a relaxing tea, take a handful of pineapple weed, fresh or dried, and put it in a pan. Cover with one cup of water. Make sure to cover the pot so the essential oils do not evaporate. Simmer for 20 minutes on very low heat. Strain and drink hot, or chill for a wonderfully tasty iced tea. Add a pinch of spearmint for a minty pineapple flavor.
The fresh flowers and leaves are edible, making a healthy edition to a salad.
Topically, pineapple weed can be used to treat skin sores. Make an infusion and apply it with a cotton ball.
Wild chamomile also works as a natural insect repellant. To keep the bugs away, crush the entire plant and rub onto your skin.
Pineapple weed is easy to find. It grows annually from May to November, depending on location. This hardy weed grows well in compacted, dry soil. It thrives in sidewalk cracks and ditches, and along gravel parking lots, footpaths, and trampled beaches.
When crushed the leaves smell of pineapple, making it easy to identify. The foliage is ferny looking, with a green nodule at the end of the stem. It is often confused with chamomile, but unlike Chamomile, the flower does not have petals. Pineapple weed gets its common name from both the smell and the appearance of the flower, which grows into a yellow cone later in the season. It usually reaches 3-5 inches, but may grow as tall as 10-12 inches in height.
Pineapple weed may be used fresh or dried for later use. All aerial (aboveground) parts can be used. Make sure to clean and dry thoroughly. Also, be sure to pick from an area that is not sprayed with pesticides or toxic chemicals.
Pineapple weed is an excellent, free alternative to chamomile. Next time you are walking in your yard, look for chamomile’s wild cousin. Pineapple weed is underfoot and often overlooked as just another weed. Luckily, we have it growing in our walkways, and enjoy a delicious, fresh tea all summer long. We also dry some to keep on hand for future use.