Pineapple Weed is here!

Pineapple Weed

I was walking in downtown Portland when I spotted some Pineapple Weed growing on the edges of an open gravel lot in direct sunlight yesterday, a typical habitat. “It seems to prefer the center of footpaths, highway shoulders and other high-impact areas with poor, tightly compacted soils,” writes Gregory Tilford, herbalist and author of “Edible & Medicinal Plants of the West.” Here’s a photo of the spot I found it in:

I recognized the plant’s characteristic feathery leaves and round yellow flowers, which are raised and textured like rounded pencil erasers. Conspicuously absent are the white petals that are common on other varieties of chamomile. I was absolutely sure of what I’d found when I knelt down and stuck my nose in them and smelled the tell-tale pineapple scent. I snapped a photo with my camera, above, and plucked some to dry and make tea out of later. (It tastes as sweet as it smells!)

Here’s a picture of Pineapple Weed I boiled during my first Wild Food Week last May:

Pineapple Weed is also called Wild Chamomile. The Latin name is Matricaria matricarioides. Medicinally it is calming, much like its domesticated relative. Tilford says Pineapple Weed lives in the West, only venturing east as far as the Rocky Mountains but some web sites say it’s all over the United States. Where have you seen it?

Explore many more wild plants on the Search Plants! page.

26 thoughts on “Pineapple Weed is here!

  1. I’ve seen it often in Georgia! It’s such a cool plant! Had no idea it was wild chamomile… gonna see it in a whole new light now!

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  3. I found it where i grew up in Minnesota, didnt know what it was back then but i do now, Thanks for all your insight.

  4. Pineapple weed grows most places here in Britain, apparently it escaped from Kew gardens in the 19th century. It grows best here on recently disturbed ground as well – I find it most often on agricultural land on footpaths and in between tractor tracks. I use the leaf as a salad and the buds make delicious little sweets if candied.

  5. I used “False Chamomile” when living north of the Alaska Range at Tok. I was told to pick off the little yellow flower to dry for tea and to leave nothing of the green. I was browsing to see if the green was useful for anything! I was really surprised to see the picture and the caption mentioning “boiled”. Sounds like you were boiling the greens for tea? Anyone use the greens without flowers for food or medicine?
    This stuff is hardy– we have had several good frosts and even a snow but the volunteers in pot are perky. I want to bring it in for the winter if it is worth growing. Will it flower inside? Is it of use if it does not flower?

  6. I live in Southern PA, and there’s a bunch of Pineapple Weed growing right outside my door.
    I made tea with it, after wrongly being told (by my landlord) that it was Chamomile, and that it was also called “sleepytime” and would help me sleep that night. The reason that came up is that I had great difficulty sleeping the night before, because of all the pollen around.
    Well, I didn’t dry it out first, I just boiled right after plucking. I added some lemon and sugar to it and it was sort of like “Theraflu”. It didn’t make me particularly sleepy, but it did seem to clear my sinuses and alleviate my sore throat, which did help me get a good night sleep. It also did have a calming affect, not as pronounced, but similar to Spanish Needles (bidens bipannata, which I love! I was very impressed!

  7. pineapple weed grew everywhere in my stomping grounds (shasta county, SF). as kids, we would hold it under each others noses and say “think of strawberry…now smell!” “think of bananna…apple…” and we would wonder at this magical flower that could change its scent. :) try it sometime!

    i just replied to your “about” page, but i’ll say it again…stoked to have found your blog!

  8. okay,
    ‘someone’ just informed me
    that i made a mistake.

    “…they are WHO they are
    (just like you and i)
    and THEYdo what THEY do
    (just like you and i)
    and we call THEM
    (just like you and i)
    by this or that name.”

    i now stand corrected.

  9. one last comment.
    which is actually a big THANK YOU to this site
    and to all ‘bloggers past-present-future’.

    so many folks at first glance call ‘pineapple weed’ ‘chamomile’
    i first crossed paths with ‘pineapple weed’ 40 years ago,
    when i worked at a vineyard in potter valley ca.
    i asked a couple of knowledgeable friends,
    independent of each other,
    “is this some kind of chamomile?”
    they separately replied:
    “no. that is pineapple weed.”
    which i accepted and repeated umpteen times to others
    who asked the same question that i had asked.

    back then,
    one had to correlate information from several books
    on several topics from several libraries to figure this all out.
    finally (only 40 years later)
    thanks to high-speed internet
    at the local community college library,
    (and this blog and bloggers)
    now on “MAY 4th 2010”
    instead of saying “no. that is pineapple weed.”
    i can now say:
    ‘matricaria discoidea’, (one of four ‘matricarias’),
    ‘disc MAY weed’, ‘pineapple weed’, et. al..
    it is what it is
    and it does what it does
    and we call it …

    many blessings to one-n-all
    and keep foraging.

  10. ‘official-sight-ings’ corroboration north-south-east-west of the rockies:
    the distribution map at [ ]
    shows ‘pineappleweed’ reported present across the whole of the north american continent
    except for the province of nunavut in canada and texas-georgia-alabama-florida in usa.
    for whatever it is worth.

  11. love your site.
    if someone asks if i have a website,
    i just refer them to yours and emily porter’s

    here in the mount shasta volcano area (elevation 3,500 ft).
    ‘pineaple weed’ (maticaria matricarioides) is not out yet.

    the comments here inspired some research.
    it is great to finally get this ‘straightened out’ !
    [ ]
    is one of many great ‘botanical sites’ to look up and sort out any plant
    by images, line drawings, common names, scientific names, annnd distribution, etc..

    soo…case in point, ‘pineapple weed’ (matricaria matricarioides):

    ‘pineapple weed’ has 9 scientific names.
    “matricaria discoidea” being the ‘current-official-classification one’:

    [ Synonyms: Matricaria discoidea DC.
    ARMA17 Artemisia matricarioides auct. non Less.
    CHSU5 Chamomilla suaveolens (Pursh) Rydb.
    LESU2 Lepidanthus suaveolens (Pursh) Nutt.
    LESU3 Lepidotheca suaveolens (Pursh) Nutt.
    *MAMA11 Matricaria matricarioides auct. non (Less.) Porter
    MASU9 Matricaria suaveolens (Pursh) Buchenau, non L.
    SASU14 Santolina suaveolens Pursh
    TASU2 Tanacetum suaveolens (Pursh) Hook ]

    ‘pineapple weed’ has several common names.
    ‘disc mayweed’ is the ‘current-official-classification one’:

    [ Kingdom Plantae – Plants
    Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
    Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
    Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
    Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
    Subclass Asteridae
    Order Asterales
    Family Asteraceae – Aster family
    Genus Matricaria L. – mayweed
    *Species Matricaria discoidea DC. – disc mayweed ]

    there are 477 ‘genera’ in “asteraceae”-‘aster’-‘daisy’ family.
    ‘pineapple weed-disc mayweed-wild chamomile’ is actually a ‘chamomile’, a “matricaria”,
    one of 4 “matricaria” ‘species’:
    [ matricaria courrantiana, crown mayweed;
    matricaria occidentalis, valley mayweed;
    matricaria recutita, german chamomile;
    *and matricaria discoidea disc mayweed. ]

    and here are two other ‘chamomile-called’ members of the “asteraceae” family:
    “chamaemelum nobile” is called ‘roman chamomile’;
    “anthemis tinctora” is called ‘dyer’s chamomile’.

    it is great to finally get this …?…’straightened out’ !

  12. I definitely saw pineapple weed growing in northern missouri last summer at an awesome community called the possibility alliance.

  13. I just discovered your blog today… It’s amazing!!

    I grew up in north east Ohio, near lake Erie. We had pineapple weed growing in similar environments, waste places, cracks in cement, etc… I also spent several years in south east Ohio and we had pineapple weed. We always called it wild chamomile.

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