Roman chamomile is a perennial herbaceous plant, almost exclusively cultivated for its therapeutic properties which are the same as Matricaria chamomilla (common chamomile) only that it has a higher yield in essential oils.
Anthemis nobilis or Chamaemelum nobilis
There are many species of chamomile that often get confused with each other. The most used for their extraordinary therapeutic properties are two:
In this article we will deal with the Arthemis nobilis.
The name Matricaria it would seem to arise from Latin mater"Mother" or from matrix "Uterus" perhaps because in the past it was given to women who were leaving because it was thought to have a beneficial effect on the muscles and thus facilitate childbirth. The name chamomile instead it would derive from Latin chamomilla in turn derived from the Greek khamaimelonformed by words called me «Small, dwarf» and from mélon "Apple" then "small apple" to recall the scent reminiscent of some varieties of apples. This reconstruction seems quite faithful considering also the fact that in some languages, such as in Spanish, chamomile is called manzanillathat is to say "melina or small apple".
It is a perennial herbaceous plant that in Italy is not found spontaneously but rarely because it "escaped" cultivation and therefore naturalized, as it is widely cultivated for its therapeutic properties which are the same as Matricariachamomilla only that it has a higher yield in oils essential.
The stems are ascending, that is to say at the beginning they are creeping then they become flexible erectias and reach a height of 40 cm.
The flowers are terminal, solitary white and very fragrant and there are both single flower and double flower forms.
The leaves of the Roman chamomile are two-pointed with seven short lacins.
Roman chamomile is a plant that loves sun, air and heat, vice versa it does not like drafts and excessive wind. It prefers places with mild winters with good humidity even if it does not like excessive humidity at night.
In the cultivation of Roman chamomile, weeds must be kept under control and must be regularly eliminated.
An important working of the soil is the elimination of the superficial crust but without making too deep tillage which would cause the root system to develop too deeply.
Roman chamomile is watered regularly so that the soil always remains moist, not soggy. Constant watering, especially before flowering and after flower harvesting is very important.
Beware of water stagnations that are not tolerated.
When watering Roman chamomile plants, care must be taken not to get the flower heads wet. Sprinkler irrigation is therefore to be avoided but prefer the flow or lateral infiltration, otherwise the flower heads can blacken before ripening.
TYPE OF SOIL - REPOT
Roman chamomile prefers fresh, non-arid and tendentially acid soils.The soil must be loose and well drained as although it needs damp soils it does not like water stagnation. It does not like particularly fertile soils nor too rich in organic matter.
Roman chamomile is a plant that does not like particularly fertile soils so if it is grown as an annual it is preferable not to make fertilizers.
If you plan to breed Roman chamomile as a biennial then a complete basic fertilization is done at the plant or at the first tillage.
The Roman chamomile blooms from the month of May and throughout the summer and the seeds ripen from August to September.
There Anthemis nobilis, usually multiplies by division of the plant as the cultivated varieties are mostly sterile.MULTIPLICATION BY DIVISION OF THE PLANT
It is carried out at the end of the vegetative station and after the fall of the flowers by taking the young stems from the creeping tract provided with some roots. Young plants can be transplanted in October or at the end of winter. When transplanting in October the plants enter production earlier, already the first year but in this case a greater number of seedlings (at least 3 or 4) must be used per bunch to be sure of taking root. Conversely, by transplanting directly at the end of winter, the seedlings can be planted individually without taking root problems.
PARASITES AND DISEASES
Roman chamomile plants are not subject to diseases of a certain importance as they are particularly resistant.
Both the Matricaria chamomilla that theAnthemis nobilis they have the same therapeutic characteristics and the essential oils are extracted from both by distillation in a current of steam.
The essential oil, responsible for its aromatic properties, contains: chamazuleneblu which turns brown in the light, flavonoids, coumarin, alcohol, fatty acids, glucosides, potassium, vitamin C.
COLLECTION AND STORAGE
The flowers of Roman chamomile should be harvested at the beginning of flowering, when the flower heads are not yet fully open and are still of a beautiful white color.
It is preferable to harvest on dry days and preferably in the evening when the plants are dry and free of dew in order not to compromise subsequent drying.
If the product is intended for distillation to obtain essential oils, the fresh or just wilted product is used and the whole plant is generally collected (leaves, stem, flowers) as at an industrial level there are no machines able to collect only the flower heads ( the weight of the flower heads is 1/4 of the interplan).
The oil yield of a whole fresh Anthemis nobilis plant is about 0.18% (the yield of a dry plant is 0.5%) while of the flower heads alone it is 0.4%.
The oil obtained from the flower heads alone is lighter and with a more pleasant and delicate aroma.
In consideration of the fact that flowering is never contemporary, multiple harvests should be made during the flowering season.
They must be dried quickly in a dry, dark and ventilated place to avoid the formation of molds and the blackening of the plant with consequent loss of its characteristics.
They are kept in glass containers away from light but it is preferable to keep them for no more than a year and then renew the stock.
See: «Medicinal plants: the Roman Chamomile».
USE IN THE KITCHEN
Roman chamomile is notoriously used in the kitchen to prepare excellent infusions that are drunk or for therapeutic use or simply to delight our palate: Matricaria chamomilla provides a sweeter and more delicate tea than that prepared with Anthemis nobilis which remains more bitter.
The origin of this plant is unknown as it is not remembered by botanists of antiquity.
It is mentioned only in 1500 where it was reported in London as a pest.
LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS AND PLANTS
See: «Chamomile - The language of flowers and plants (referring to Matricaria chamomilla)».