The genus Matricaria Linnaeus
The words or terms in red
(actually dark orange) in the text are defined in a
Plants of the Matricaria
annuals pleasantly aromatic.
They have cauline and
basal leaves, the later soon withering.
The leaves are bipinnate
or tripinnate with
numerous linear, narrowly
They have persistent phyllaries in two
or more series. Their greenish-yellow
have none to few ray florets
but many disk florets.
Their fruits are cypselae without
Their number of chromosomes (n) is
They grow along roadsides in ruderal
communities and in fallow land rich in nutrients. Though many are considered
nuisance weeds, they are suitable for rock gardens and herb gardens,
and as border plants. They are used as food plants by the larvae of some
There are 7 species in the genus, that are
found in North America and Eurasia where it is very common in the temperate
region; they are found as well as in northern and southern Africa; some species
are widespread weeds in the southern hemisphere, some are
naturalised in Australia.
Three species are found in North America, and only two in Québec:
The taxonomy of the
Matricaria genus is still (2007) somewhat controversial and confused.
Several species are classified either in the Tripleurospermum or
Matricaria genus depending on the interpretation of the author,
the distinction being made according to the number of the seed ribs:
seeds of the Tripleurospermum have one
adaxial and two lateral ribs,
while the seeds of the Matricaria have four or five adaxial seed ribs.
The genus belongs to the
In Latin, one of the meanings of matrix is the womb; the name
Matricaria was given to the genus because Matricaria recutita
(the chamomile) was widely used to treat such gynecologic complaints as
menstrual cramps and sleep disorders related to premenstrual syndrome.
Matricaria recutita has been found to contain fairly strong
constituents and is particularly effective
in treating stomach and intestinal cramps.
Some of the vernacular names of
species in the Matricaria genus are Mayweed, Chamomile, Matricary
and, in French, Matricaire, Chamomille.
The Mayweed name also refers to plants not in this genus.
The extract of German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is taken as
a strong tea. It has been used in herbal medicine as a
carminative and anti-inflammatory. It is
also used in ointments and lotions, and as a mouthwash against infections of
mouth and gums. Aromatherapy uses two
essential oils of chamomile: the true chamomile oil (from Matricaria
recutita) and the Roman chamomile oil (from Chamaemelum
nobile formerly known as Anthemis nobilis).