Pineapple weed

Pineapple weed

For such a common, almost invisible weed, the sweet, citrus smell of pineapple when you crush the flower and leaves is quite a pleasant surprise.

Habitat

Waysides and waste places, especially along tracks, paths. by trampled gateways, and in the cracks in pavements
Range N.E. Asia. An introduced and increasing weed in Britain, but welcome if you ask me.

Description

The plant grows 5 to 40 cm high, resembling a chamomile, with it’s finely pinnate leaves, but much smaller and a distinctive lack of ray florets on the flowers. The clue in the name tells you that the flowers (and less so the leaves) give off a distinctly pineapple smell when crushed.

Identifying Features

  • Leaves – The leaves are pinnately dissected, feathery, and sweet-scented when crushed.
  • Flowers – The flower head is cone-shaped, composed of dense-packed yellowish-green corollas, and lacking ray-florets. Very much like a daisy or chamomile with the white petals removed.

Pictures

Uses

Food

Flower heads – raw or cooked. A tasty nibble. The dried flowers are used to make herb teas. They are pineapple scented when steeped in hot water. You can also make a tasty cordial and alcohol infusion with this.

Medicine

As an imported weed, this plant is rarely used medicinally in the UK, though it is sometimes employed as a domestic remedy in the treatment of intestinal worms and also as a sedative4. The plant is harvested when in flower in the summer and is dried for later use4. Some caution is advised since some individuals are allergic to this plant7.

Most of what we know about medicinal usage of M. dicoidea comes from extensive usage by native Americans.

Other uses

The plant repels insects and is often used for companion planting with vegetables. The dried flowers are used as an insect repellent.

Known hazards

Apparently, some people are allergic to this plant. It is known for some people to be allergic to Asteraceae family plants.

Harvesting

Harvested in summer (March to September), it can be dried for later use. I’ve seen it growing fresh as late as November.

Potential lookalikes

Any chamomile family plant, but once the flowers with no white petals appear it is quite clear.

Mythology and Symbolism

This plant was used as part of the Cheyenne Sun Dance ceremony. When this plant was burned with human hair it was said to prevent a loved one from leaving. Similarly with the addition of horse hair it could prevent a horse from running away. It was also labelled as an indicator of salmonberry picking time5.

Sources

  1. Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angelica_sylvestris
  2. Woodland Trust – https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/visiting-woods/trees-woods-and-wildlife/
  3. Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn 1981 ISBN 0-600-37216-2.
  4. Moerman, D. (2014). Ethnobotany in Native North America. 10.1007/978-94-007-3934-5_8580-2.
  5. Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants – Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest.
  6. Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. 1990 ISBN 0395467225.
  7. Brill, S. and Dean, E., 1994. Identifying and harvesting edible and medicinal plants in wild (and not so wild) places. Hearst Books.
  8. Tilford, G. L. (1998). From earth to herbalist: An earth-conscious guide to medicinal plants. Missoula: Mountain Press Publishing Company.

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