Pineapple weed

Pineappleweed weed in flower (Matricaria discoidea)
A close relative to Chamomile, Pineapple Weed is an aromatic herb that commonly grows alongside pathways. The plant offers multiple medicinal benefits and a unique taste that makes it attractive to the forager.

Table of Contents

Pineapple Weed: Plant profile

Common names

Pineapple Weed, Pineappleweed, Wild Chamomile, Disc Mayweed, May Weed, False Chamomile, Rayless Chamomile, Lus na Hiothlann

Botanical name

Matricaria discoidea (syn Matricaria matricarioides)

Plant family

Asteraceae (Daisy)

Distribution

Native to Northeast Asia and North America. Common and widespread throughout the UK and Ireland. Less common in some parts of Scotland.

Where to find Pineapple Weed

You can find it in fields, parks, wasteland and roadsides, very often in poor, compacted soil alongside paths.

When to find Pineapple Weed

Flowers are best in spring to late summer.

How to identify Pineapple Weed

Low growing, compact plant with fine and feathery leaves. The flower is dome-shaped and similar to chamomile in appearance, but it has no visible petals and it’s a bit more greenish. The plant is aromatic and gives off a slight pineapple smell when crushed.

Pineapple Weed lookalikes

Pineapple Weed is quite similar to other members of the Daisy family, such as Wild Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile), Field Chamomile (Anthemis arvensis) and Scented Mayweed (Matricaria chamomilla). Pineapple Weed has a distinctive smell and it’s the only one with no visible petals. All of these are edible regardless.

Pineappleweed weed in detail (Matricaria discoidea)

All about Pineapple Weed

This non-native species, originally from Asia, was introduced as a garden plant in the UK in the 18th century. Apparently, it escaped from Kew Gardens and became one of the fastest spreading plants in the British Isles ever since..

Despite its abundance, Pineapple Weed is often overlooked. Nobody would expect to find such a delicate aromatic plant around pathways, yet that is the kind of places where it prefers to grow.

A weed is a plant growing in a place you don’t want to, but some of these plants are indeed useful in the kitchen.

Medicinal properties of Pineapple Weed

Pineapple Weed has many of the same benefits as Chamomile. For instance, it’s good for diggestion and helps to reduce stress, but it has also been used to treat sores and fevers.

This plant is also considered an effective insect repellent.

Culinary uses and recipes with Pineapple Weed

Pineapple Weed is, as its name suggests, a ‘weed’ that slightly smells and tastes of pineapple, a flavour and aroma you wouldn’t find in the wild in the British Isles otherwise.

The leaves can be added raw to salads and the flower heads are best infused to make refreshing drinks such as iced tea or cordial. Pineapple weed tea can also be used as a base for sorbet or granita.

Additionally, syrup works as flavouring for delicious puddings and desserts, such as panna cotta or ice cream.

Pineappleweed weed in flower (Matricaria discoidea)

Safe foraging of Pineapple Weed

Some caution is advised since some people experience allergies to pineapple weed. Consume only a small amount on your first time until you’re sure it agrees your body.

Ecological importance of Pineapple Weed

The smell of Pineapple Weed usually repels insects.

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Alvaro Docio

Alvaro Docio

I am the person behind British Local Food. As a forager and wild food educator, my aim is to inspire you to go outdoors, familiarise with your local plants and make the best of their culinary and medicinal properties, in the hope you'd pass on any knowledge gained down to the next generation.

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3 thoughts on “Pineapple weed”

  1. I love pineapple weed. I usually dehydrate it so I have pineapple weed tea for the winter.

    Thanks for the recipe ideas! I never would have thought of making a syrup from it.

    Reply
  2. Hi Alvaro,
    Thank you for sharing this information about the pineapple weed. I recently found out about pineapple weed too but even when I read things are safe to use in books I am still cautious. I would really like to try drying some to make a tea. Since the lockdowns I have also been spending a lot of time in hedges photographing plants and researching them! Yesterday I got a load of hazelnuts but they are still green so I’m hoping to ripen them. If I don’t pick them now all the squirrels get them! I hope I haven’t picked them too soon. Thanks for sharing your foraging knowledge, Rachel.

    Reply
    • Hi Rachel,
      Thanks for your feedback.The best way to learn how to forage new plants and gain confidence is to just look at them closely until you get familiarised with the species. Take your time, use all your senses and do not feel the rush to eat it until you feel 100% sure you have identified the plant. Though there are not many plants you can confuse pineapple weed with (lookalikes in the daisy family are all edible anyway). Just try a bit for first time and see how it agrees your body.
      PS. A bit too early for hazelnuts! You’ll need to wait until they start to go brown.

      Reply

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