Pineapple Weed: Plant profile
Pineapple Weed, Pineappleweed, Wild Chamomile, Disc Mayweed, May Weed, False Chamomile, Rayless Chamomile, Lus na Hiothlann
Matricaria discoidea (syn Matricaria matricarioides)
Native to Northeast Asia and North America, this species has successfully established itself across the United Kingdom and Ireland, exhibiting a common and widespread presence. Less common in some parts of Scotland.
Where to find Pineapple Weed
This resilient species thrives in diverse habitats including fields, parks, wastelands, and roadsides, with a particular affinity for areas with poor, compacted soil. It is commonly found alongside paths, making it a familiar sight for those who traverse these routes.
When to find Pineapple Weed
The flowers of pineapple weed showcase their best from spring through late summer.
How to identify Pineapple Weed
This low-growing and compact plant boasts fine and feathery leaves, adding an elegant touch to its overall appearance. Its unique dome-shaped flower, resembling chamomile, sets it apart.
However, unlike chamomile, this flower lacks visible petals and possesses a slightly greenish hue. A delightful feature of this plant is its aromatic nature, emitting a subtle pineapple fragrance when gently crushed.
Pineapple Weed lookalikes
Pineapple Weed, a member of the Daisy family, shares notable similarities with other members such as Wild Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), Field Chamomile (Anthemis arvensis), and Scented Mayweed (Matricaria chamomilla).
While all of these plants are edible, Pineapple Weed stands out for its distinct aroma and the absence of visible petals, distinguishing it from its botanical relatives. All of them are edible regardless.
All about Pineapple Weed
Originally from Asia, this non-native species was introduced to the UK as a garden plant in the 18th century. It is believed to have escaped from Kew Gardens and has since become one of the fastest spreading plants in the British Isles.
Despite its remarkable success, Pineapple Weed often goes unnoticed. Its delicate aromatic nature makes it an unexpected find along pathways, which happen to be the preferred growing spots for this plant.
While commonly labelled as a weed, it’s important to note that some of these plants can actually be useful in the kitchen.
Medicinal properties of Pineapple Weed
Pineapple Weed offers many of the same benefits as Chamomile. For instance, it improves digestion, reduces stress, and has been used to treat sores and fevers.
In addition to its medicinal properties, this plant is known for its effectiveness as an insect repellent.
Culinary uses and recipes with Pineapple Weed
Pineapple Weed, true to its name, emits a gentle pineapple aroma while also carrying a subtle hint of bitter chamomile, creating a distinctive and unique flavour profile.
You can add the leaves raw to salads, and infuse the flower heads to create refreshing drinks like iced tea or cordial. Pineapple Weed tea can also serve as a base for sorbet or granita.
Additionally, you can use the syrup as a flavouring for delightful puddings and desserts, such as panna cotta or ice cream, enhancing them with the distinct taste of Pineapple Weed.
Safe foraging of Pineapple Weed
Exercise caution when consuming Pineapple Weed, as it can cause allergies in some people. It is advisable to consume a small amount on your first occasion to ensure that it agrees with your body before consuming larger quantities.
Ecological importance of Pineapple Weed
The nectar of pineapple weed flowers attracts pollinators such as bees, butterflies and hoverflies.
Each cluster of flowers has the potential to generate thousands of small, adhesive seeds. These seeds have the ability to cling onto passing animals and even attach themselves to shoes and car tires, easily reproducing in transit areas.
Sustainable Pineapple Weed foraging
Foraging Pineapple Weed is a sustainable option due to the plant’s prolific nature and its ability to thrive in various environments. It is resilient and adaptable, so it can replenish its populations quickly and withstand moderate harvesting pressure.
However, always maintain the common sensitivities of a forager when harvesting and distribute your picking efforts across different areas to avoid depleting entire colonies
Carefully select clumps of flower heads and delicately snip them off, leaving the rest of the plant to regrow.