Both Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile, formerly Anthemis nobilis) and German chamomile (Chamomilla recutita, formerly Matricaria chamomilla) are aromatic herbs cultivated for their essential oils and for use in teas, cosmetics and medicine.
They have different growing habits and distributions. Roman chamomile, also known as English chamomile, is hardy in U.S. zones 6 through 9. German chamomile is an annual.
Its native distribution is Europe and northern Asia.
Roman chamomile grows to 12 inches tall and has hairy stems and finely cut, threadlike, green leaves that have a scent similar to apple and pineapple. Daisy-like flowers grow 1/2 to 1 inch wide, with white petals and a yellow center. Distilled oil from Roman chamomile is clear to pale yellow. Native to the Middle East, southern and western Europe and eastern Africa, Roman chamomile is cultivated in Argentina, England, France, Belgium and the United States.
German chamomile is taller, reaching 24 inches, and has hairless stems with threadlike, more sparse and less ferny leaves than Roman chamomile. The plant is less spreading. Flowers are similar but larger -- 1 to 2 inches wide. The yellow center is conical and hollow, smelling also like apple or pineapple when crushed.
The essential oil is dark blue. Also known as Hungarian chamomile, the plant is cultivated in Hungary, Egypt, France and eastern Europe.
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