Pineapple Weed – Weekly Weeder #29
Today’s featured plant is Pineapple Weed, Matricaria discoidea.
Pineapple weed is also known as wild chamomile and disc mayweed. Note: This plant is not related to Pineapple Punch Medicinal Marijuana, also known by some as pineapple weed, which is a Cannabis species. It is related to Matricaria recutita (German chamomile).
Range and Identification of Pineapple Weed
Pineapple weed is native to North America and Northeast Asia. It can be found over most of North America and Greenland, except for a few southern states such as Texas, Florida, Alabama and Georgia (see USDA map).
The plant is an annual, growing 3-8″ (7.5-20 cm) tall. It is in the Aster family, which means it is related to daisies, such as the ox-eye daisy. It is often found along road sides and in disturbed or compacted soils. It prefers full sun and dry conditions (this year I noticed a lot of plants with the drought).
The leaves of pineapple weed are delicate and lacy, resembling the tips of fine carrot leaves. They alternate up the stem and are 1/2 to 1 inch (1-2.5 cm) long. Flowers are small, yellow green and dome shaped, with just a hint of white petal at the base. Clusters of these small (1/4 inch/.6 cm) flowers are found at the tops of the plants. The plants smell a bit like pineapple or ripe apples when crushed, thus the name pineapple weed. (See Wildflowers Of WisconsinWildflowers of Wisconsin for more information.)
Pineapple Weed for Food and Medicine
Illinois Wildflowers lists animal uses of pineapple weed:
The flowers attract flower flies (Syrphidae) and are probably pollinated by them. Little is known about this plant's relationship to birds and herbivorous mammals in the NE or Midwest. Cattle reportedly make little use of it as a food source. It is possible that the seeds or flowerheads stick to the tires of motor vehicles and for this reason Pineapple Weed often occurs along roadsides and driveways.
The plant can be eaten raw or cooked, although it's rather bitter. (Just make sure you're picking it from a clean area!) You can make a simple herb tea by pouring boiling water over the dried or fresh plant. Use roughly 1 tablespoon of plant per cub of tea – more or less to taste. Steep covered for 10 minutes, strain, and sweeten with honey to taste, if desired. Grow It, Cook It, Can It has a tasty looking recipe for a pineapple weed tea blend here.
The edible and medicinal wild plants forum at tribes.net has a discussion of pineapple weed that provides an overview of pineapple weed's medicinal uses:
The flowering plant is antispasmodic, carminative, galactogogue, sedative, skin and vermifuge[9, 172, 222]. This plant is rarely used medicinally, though it is sometimes employed as a domestic remedy in the treatment of intestinal worms and also as a sedative. The plant is harvested when in flower in the summer and is dried for later use. Some caution is advised since some individuals are allergic to this plant.
The ethnobotony wiki provides more information:
Pineapple weed flowers can be crushed and made into tea which acts as a sedative helping individuals suffering from insomnia and anxiety. Further, pineapple weed tea can be used as an analgesic taken for stomach pains and relief from gas or bloating. The plant also acts as a gastrointestinal aid and antidiarrheal when infused as a tea. The seeds of pineapple weed can be used as a disinfectant or dermatological aid to heal infected sores.
Additionally the plant tops can be used as an Antihemorrhagic by individuals who are spitting up blood. Active compounds commonly found amongst plants in the Matricaria Genus are characteristic polyines such as 2Z,8Z-matricaria ester, 8Z-2,3-dihydro-matricaria ester, 2E- and 2Z- lachnophyllum ester, 2E-dehydro-matricaria ester, and 5E,9Z-matricaria lactone. The use of pineapple wide for medicinal purposed has not been approved or evaluated by the FDA, however, it has been used for hundred of years with success. Potential side-effects or drug interactions are mostly limited to individuals having allergic reactions to the plant.
Pineapple weed is also supposed to work as a bug deterrent, either in fresh or powdered form. You can rub fresh plant on exposed skin, or infuse the powder in oil and apply it. Sprinkling the dried plant over food helps prevent spoilage. (I have not tried this, and I'm sure it would affect the flavor, but maybe in a pinch.)
As always, any medical information is for informational purposes only. Always exercise caution when using any wild plants and make sure you have positively identified the plant and are harvesting from a clean area.
Thanks for the feature! Boy, that was one experience I hope I never have to relive.
I can imagine. Thankfully, you were able to learn from the experience.
I definitely want this series to continue!
I had no idea pineapple weed could act as a natural bug deterrent and will definitely try this suggestion. I seem to attract the bug bites at family barbecues and don’t like the smell or ingredients in OTC repellents. By the way, what an excellent series.
This place is TOO COOL!! I LOVE the “Weekly Weeder” and all the information here. Have signed up for your newsletter and will be back on a regular basis to read more! Keep up the AWESOME work!!
Welcome, Jay, and thank you for your kind words. Feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment with much going on in “real life” but hope to get my online mojo back shortly and have more weedy goodness once our growing season finally gets going.
When I was a little girl, I used to stick the flowers in my nose when it was stuffy. It always seemed to work, and although it wasn’t a good idea, I never got one stuck.
I’m glad it helped, but wouldn’t generally recommend that technique.
I posted an image on another website trying to identify a weed that has taken over my neighborhood. It is believed to be pineapple weed. If it is, this weed is pure evil. I have spent 4 months with severe hives. I have about half an acre of it surrounding my house. If anyone wants some, I would send it to you except my eyes would swell shut before I could get the package sealed.
It certainly looks like pineapple weed. In terms of control, it’s a tough one. It typically occurs where the soil is compacted or there is hardpan. It’s resistant to a number of commercial herbicides. The seeds are gelatinous and will stick to clothing or fur and be easily transported to new areas. In lawns, it may be possible to crowd it out with grasses or other more desirable plants. With properly cultivated soil, it will fail to thrive. Aerating a lawn to reduce compaction would likely help eliminate it.
In a rough, rocky area like you show in your photo, I’m not sure what the best route to management might be. Maybe overseeding the area with something else that grows well there that you are not allergic to, to help crowd it out?
Thanks, Laurie. Unfortunately, crowding it out isn’t really an option. I live in the foothills north of Phoenix. Maintaining a small patch of anything takes a lot of water. I considered buying a goat as an option, but from I’ve read, they won’t even eat it.
Hmmm… maybe soil aeration? Got anyone who loves you enough to go out and poke holes in your hillside, or any burrowing critters you could encourage?
My friend, Deb, says sheep are less fussy eaters than goats, despite the reputation of goats.
Jessica I feel your pain. I live out in East Mesa and I am a AZ native and until about 2016 I really had never seen these plants around and then BAM they are everywhere. My backyard is full of them and I get the same affects that you so and NOTHING helps.
Have you had any luck with medications that have help?
This really sucks as I am the main gardener in my house and I have to have my wife go weed the yard so I can go out there and do anything at all.
It is another reason to get out of this state.
I generally wear gloves when working in the garden due to very sensitive skin and I am intrigued that I have never had a reaction, since I may have bare hand handled it once in a while. More caution will be employed! I thought because it is so fragrant that it might be a good companion for strawberries, which it turned out not to be. It was persistent when I pulled it out, but eventually disappeared from gardened areas, which I often ponder about whether it may need a trace mineral that is easily exhausted.More points scored for Weekly Weeder!