(Anthemis Cotula; Maruta Cotula of Gray) Thistle family
Flower-heads - Like smaller daisies, about 1 in. broad; 10 to 18
white, notched, neutral ray florets around a convex or conical
yellow disk, whose florets are fertile, containing both stamens
and pistil, their tubular
corollas 5-cleft. Stem: Smooth, much
branched, 1 to 2 ft. high, leafy, with unpleasant odor and acrid
taste. Leaves: Very finely dissected into slender segments.
Preferred Habitat - Roadsides, dry wasteland, sandy fields.
Flowering Season - June-November.
Distribution - Throughout North America, except in circumpolar
"Naturalized from Europe, and widely distributed as a weed in
Asia, Africa, and Australasia" (Britton and Brown's "Flora").
Little wonder the camomile encompasses the earth, for it imitates
the triumphant daisy, putting into practice those business
methods of the modern department store, by which the composite
horde have become the most successful strugglers for survival.
The unpleasant odor given forth by this bushy little plant repels
bees and other highly organized insects; not so flies, which, far
from objecting to a fetid smell, are rather attracted by it. They
visit the camomile in such numbers as to be the chief
fertilizers. As the development of bloom proceeds toward the
center, the disk becomes conical, to present the newly opened
florets, where a fly alighting on it must receive pollen, to be
transferred as he crawls and flies to another head. After
fertilization the white rays droop. Dog, used as a prefix by
several of the plant's folk names, implies contempt for its
worthlessness. It is quite another species, the GARDEN CAMOMILE
(A. nobilis) which furnishes the apothecary with those flowers
which, when steeped into a bitter aromatic tea, have been
supposed for generations to make a superior tonic and blood
Not so common a plant here, but almost as widespread as the
preceding species, is the similar, but not fetid, CORN or FIELD
CAMOMILE (A. arvensis), a pest to European farmers. Both are
closely related to the garden FEVERFEW, FEATHERFEW, OR PELLITORY
(Chrysanthemum Parthenium), which escapes from cultivation
whenever it can into waste fields and roadsides.
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