Pasture Weed Watch
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.