Pas­ture Weed Watch

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Contents -

A weed for tea and salad

ACROSS THE SUM­MER MONTHS, there seems to be an abun­dance of flow­er­ing weed species that ap­pear in al­most ev­ery avail­able nook and cranny. I've tried to grow a new lawn and I know from bit­ter ex­pe­ri­ence that the com­pe­ti­tion for space is fierce.

One weed species that stands out at this time of year is ray­less chamomile ( Ma­tri­caria

dis­coidea). It's a mem­ber of the Aster­aceae (daisy) fam­ily and orig­i­nated in North Amer­ica. It has since spread across most of Europe, north-east Asia and New Zealand.

It has a num­ber of other pop­u­lar names in­clud­ing false chamomile (be­cause it doesn't pro­duce leaves) and disc may­weed (be­cause of its flower head). But my favourite is pineap­ple weed. This is due to the aroma from the flower heads that is given off when they are squeezed.

There are a few, tell-tale signs to help you iden­tify it. The cone-shaped head is dull yel­low and the tiny disc flow­ers are pretty dis­tinc­tive.

Ray­less chamomile can grow up 30cm tall, de­pend­ing on how fer­tile the soil is. The leaves are al­ter­nately at­tached to the main stem with no bris­tles (as op­posed to the sim­i­lar-look­ing stink­ing may­weed).

How to con­trol it

If it's in your gar­den, hand weed­ing is the best method.

If you are try­ing to erad­i­cate it from your lawn or pas­ture, her­bi­cides like MCPA and MCPB are not ef­fec­tive. A com­bi­na­tion of ben­ta­zone and flumet­su­lam (ie, Dy­namo®) is use­ful. It also con­trols other broadleaf weeds.

Al­ways at­tempt to erad­i­cate as a seedling or be­fore the 4-leaf growth stage as once the dull-yel­low flow­ers be­gin to ap­pear, chamomiles are al­most un­touch­able.

How to use ray­less chamomile in the kitchen

Na­tive Amer­i­cans would brew the flower tops in a tea to re­lieve stress, anx­i­ety and in­flam­ma­tion. Ray­less chamomile leaves are also ed­i­ble and can be an in­ter­est­ing ad­di­tion to your au­tumn sal­ads. How­ever, don't eat once the plant is in flower as they de­velop a bit­ter taste.

Why is it a weed? Com­petes in your pas­tures and crops Where is it found? Most of New Zealand Is it toxic? No, is ed­i­ble and can be brewed for tea

Stephanie Sloan grew up on a sheep and beef farm in the Wairarapa. She is now part of PGG Wright­son’s agron­omy team, iden­ti­fy­ing weeds on a daily ba­sis.

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