Chamomile, scientifically known as Chamaemelum Nobile, is a common household plant whose origins can be traced back to Elizabethan times when it was planted on lawns.
Its flowers are commonly used to make herbal teas and as a food flavor. It was also used in cosmetics as a topical treatment for skin disorders. Craft brewers also commonly used it to flavor drinks.
This plant can also be found growing on cliff edges and meadows. Its small leaves are finely divided, two times pinnate, and downy to the touch. When crushed, they have an apple-like scent.
The flowers, which look very similar to daisies, have yellow disk florets and white petals around 3 cm in diameter, which grow at the top of the hairy stem, which gets to around 20 cm tall.
Now that you know how to identify chamomile, it will be much easier to tell it from the other plants. So, which plants look like chamomile?
1. Oxeye daisy
Leucanthemum Vulgare is a wildflower that naturally grows in prairie land. It is also commonly known as oxeye daisy, dog daisy, and marguerite, among other names.
They normally grow in fields, meadows, forests, roadsides, and isolated areas on thick wet ground.
The oxeye daisy grows to 60 cm tall and above, about three times or more than the height of a chamomile. The stem has some hair, mostly on the upper portion.
They can grow flowers in three clusters, each containing 15 to 40 petals.
2. Pineapple weed
Scientifically known as Matricaria discoidea, this plant is often confused with chamomile because of its flowers. It is famously also known as mayweed or wild chamomile.
Pineapple weed and chamomile look very similar and are both edible. The way to tell chamomile from mayweed is by the scent and taste. Pineapple weed has a stronger scent and tastes like pineapple.
It has small, short-lived, and stunted petals, with dome-shaped inner corollas that are bright green or yellow. You often spot this plant along roadsides, fields, and solid soil.
3. Stinking chamomile
Anthemis Cotula has a strong and foul smell that makes it stand out. Depending on where you go, it has other names like dog Finkle, dog-or-hog’s fennel, Mather, chigger weed, and many others.
The flowers are shaped like little cups; thus, the name ‘Cotula’ is Greek. Small hairs are on the upper part of the thin and feather-like leaves, but the rest of the plant has no hairs. It also has no stalk, and the leaves grow directly from the stem.
The flower, just like chamomile, grows at the very top of the stem. This plant, however, is poisonous to animals.
4. Sneeze wort
Originally from Europe, Achillea ptarmica has been used for centuries as an insecticide, pain killer, and numbing agent. It is also used to make essential oils for aromatherapy. You can also cook or eat raw.
It is also known as sneezeweed, European pellitory, fair-maid-of-France, gooeatse tongue, bastard pellitory, sneezewort yarrow, and others.
It is bright white flowers, though the corollas are slightly duller, so it is easier to tell them apart that way.
5. Scentless false mayweed
Another one of the chamomile look-alikes is Tripleurospermum Inodorum. It is also known as false chamomile or scentless chamomile.
As the name suggests, this plant has no scent. You can use this factor to tell it apart from a chamomile plant.
The plant has very light leaves and triangular-shaped seeds. When they mature, the length of the leaves can grow from ¾ of an inch to 3 inches. At the top of the stalk, 10 to 25 bright white flowers bloom and become rounded when they mature.
When they are young, the bracts and stalks usually have hair, but as they grow older, they tend to lose the hair.
6. German chamomile
Unlike English chamomile, Matricaria chamomilla (or M. Recutita) has an upright growth habit, growing to between two and three feet tall. It is a self-seeding annual plant with small white flowers and lacy foliage.
It is also known as wild chamomile, white chamomile or Hungarian chamomile and thrives at high temperatures but can tolerate low temperatures for a short time.
Both plants have many similarities and are often confused. They contain the essential oil known as chamazulene, although German chamomile has it at a higher concentration. Both herbs have a sweet scent reminiscent of that of apples.
To tell the two apart, this plant flowers a lot more frequently than English chamomile and have thicker and bigger leaves than the delicate fern-like leaves of English chamomile.
This is another plant species we commonly see being confused with chamomile. Except, this flower has many more petals than chamomile, and they are narrow. Scientifically, the plant is known as Erigeron annuus.
The easiest way to tell these two species apart is to look at the flowers in the flower head and the shape of the leaves.
Fleabane has many branches, with about 5 to 50 flower heads. They also have a yellow centre. Unlike the chamomile, whose centre is raised like a dome, this one has a flat or slightly dome-shaped centre that is often sunken.
Many plants are similar in appearance. However, as much as chamomile has many look-alikes, they have varying uses and characteristics.
Some plants may be edible, while others may be poisonous or toxic. Before you harvest any of them to eat or use around your household, research to ensure you are not eating the wrong plant.
Hopefully, this article has provided all the information you may need.
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Carla is a student pursuing a B.S in Agricultural Systems Technology. With a passion for landscaping for over 4 years, Carla loves plants. She has previously contributed to several other sites in the space before joining InsightWeeds.