Pineapple weed

Foraging pineapple weed leaves and flowers
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 (IE)

Botanical name

Matricaria discoidea (syn Matricaria matricarioides)

Plant family

Asteraceae (Daisy)

Distribution

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.

Foraging pineapple weed leaves and flowers

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.

Foraging pineapple weed leaves and flowers

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.

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Alvaro // Wild Plant Guy

Alvaro // Wild Plant Guy

I am the human behind BritishLocalFood. 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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6 thoughts on “Pineapple weed”

  1. Hi, just found your site, and love it. I found pineapple weed a few years back,but never knew about it actually being edible,so I will certainly have to try it. I did try to grow it myself from some I’d foraged, but no luck. Good to know it’s an insect repellent too, as I’m going to see again if I can plant some in greenhouse. Off to find out more. X

    Reply
  2. 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
    • Hi Kathy

      I like pineapple weed too..just picked some infact..I made jelly from it last year which was really good. You might like to try that if you are not veggie! ( Make a strong tea..leave overnight..add honey. Mix 2.5tbsps gelatine powder and 13 tbsps water. Leave half an hour to bloom. Heat over pan of water in the bowl. Add the pineapple weed mix. Refrigerate overnight. Lasts about 5 days in fridge).

      Reply
  3. 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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