The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Chamomile
CHAMOMILE, or CAMOMILE (Anthemis nobilis), a plant belonging to the family Asteraceæ. It is an herb with slender, trailing, hairy and branched stems. The leaves are doubly pinnate, with linear pointed pinnæ. The head of flowers is white, with a yellow centre. Both leaves and flowers of this plant have a strong though not unpleasant smell, and a very bitter nauseous taste; but the flowers are more bitter and aromatic than the leaves. Chamomile enjoys a wide, popular reputation as a diaphoretic and diuretic. The flowers are usually made into an infusion or tea and this is drunk while hot. A poultice is also made of the flowers and applied to painful swellings, such as rheumatic joints, or earache, boils, etc. There is a large amount of fixed and volatile oil in chamomile to which its useful physiological and physical properties are due. Volatile oils act as vaso dilators and antispasmodics, diuretics and diaphoretics, the fixed oils permitting of long-continued heat. Chamomile flowers are sometimes used by brewers as a substitute for hops. Distilled with water, an essential oil in small quantities is obtained, of a greenish color and strong pungent taste. So fragrant is the chamomile plant that the places where it grows wild may easily be discovered by the somewhat strawberry-like perfume emitted when it is trodden on. This quality has sometimes induced its cultivation for a greenwalk in gardens. Chamomile in the United States is an importation from Europe. Two other closely related plants of the same genus. May-weed or dog-fennel (A. cotula) and corn chamomile (A. arvensis), both natives of Europe, are widely naturalized as weeds in North America.