Pineapple Weed

by Green Deane

in Beverage, Miscellaneous, Plants, Salad

Pineapple Weed, Matricaria matricariodies

 Matricaria matricarioides for Your Tea & Salad

A hard-packed gravel driveway is the last place you would expect to find a delicate plant that makes an excellent tea and salad nibble yet that is where Matricaria matricarioides prefers to grow.

Every summer our driveway would be two glacial dirt ruts with a few plants struggling to survive in between. There I would find Pineapple Weed, the dominant plant of that micro environment along with struggling European plantains. Our horses, which were also our lawn mowers, always left the Pineapple Weed alone, all the more for me.

A familiar sight, Pineapple  Weed in bare dirt.

A familiar sight, Pineapple Weed in bare dirt.

Kids do the most dangerous things and Pineapple Weed was one of the plants that I learned was edible from other kids. Actually, I learned quite a few that way. But, it was a different time, and era. We lived near to the wilderness in Maine with a lot of adults around who had foraged so the pass-along knowledge was good, though the identifications could be iffy.  Many years later I tried transplanting Pineapple Weed to Florida but it was just too warm. Not only that but my Native Plant Society friends would have disowned me had I succeeded.

If you are inclined to gather this edible, Pineapple Weed can be confused with young Mayweed Chamomile (Anthemis cotula) or possibly Dog Fennel (Eupatorium capillifolium.) Neither of these, however, smell like pineapple when crushed, so you always want to check for that. Mayweed and Dogfennel also grow much taller than Pineapple Weed which in some environments won’t even get two inches high. Additionally, Dog Fennel has a strong balsam odor. Its common name fennel reflects what its leaves look like, not how it smells. Dog fennel has external and limited medicinal uses thus should not be consumed.  Pineapple Weed, however,  is related to the common night-time drink, chamomile tea which is Matricaria recutita.

Note the lack of obvious petals.

Note the lack of obvious petals.

Matricaria matricarioides (mat-rik-KAY-ree-uh mat-ri-kar-ee-OY-deez…. mat-ri-kar-ee-EE-des in Greek)  is fairly easy to sort out.  Matricaria’s base word is Matrix, Dead Latin for womb but that translates into “mother” and is used to mean it has medicinal uses. In contemporary terms we might say it is the Mother Of All Herbs.  “-Oides” is Dead Latin’s version a Greek suffix which now means “look’s like.” It also tells you the naming botanist was having a bad day and couldn’t think of any thing really good to name the plant. So, matricarioides means “like the Matricaria.” So its name kind of means “mother herb like itself.” I think they could have done much better.

Some people are allergic to this plant, so try carefully. It can also be used as an insect repellent.

Green Deane’s “Itemized” Plant Profile

IDENTIFICATION: One or multiple flowers at the ends of the stems on short stalks, flowers cone-shaped, from 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter,  greenish yellow in color, finely dissected leaves with a sweet “pineapple-like” aroma when crushed. .

TIME OF YEAR: A late summer or winter annual

ENVIRONMENT: Dry areas, rocky soil, waste ground, nurseries.  Pineapple-weed is found throughout Canada the United States except for Georgia, Mississippi, Florida and Texas. As a cool weather plant it can be found in the northern areas of some southern states.

METHOD OF PREPARATION: Young flower buds in salads, or fresh or dried to make a tea. The entire plant can be used to repel insects.

 

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Dawn August 7, 2016 at 14:03

I recently picked a bunch of pineapple chamomile to transport to my home state. Since the plants were obviously fresh, I gently wrapped them in paper towels and placed them into a plastic bag. Alas, when I got to where I was going, all of them were moldy. Is there any way I can salvage them now? I haven’t found any of these wild plants anywhere here where I live and wanted to dry them for their wonderful fragrance. Thank you!

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Pam July 1, 2016 at 09:12

I have a plant whose flowers look exactly like pineapple weed..yellow, no petals, but it doesn’t have the pineapple scent and it grows about 10-12 inches tall. It seems to be spreading via runners like chickweed does, as well as by seed ? and is trying to take over the garden. The stems are sort of thin and tough but again like chickweed, they will break off rather than pull out the root. I can’t find anything except pineapple weed that has those flowers. It certainly doesn’t have any petals. Any ideas as to what on earth it is?

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Stephanie September 11, 2016 at 10:05

Tansy possibly

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Kathleena July 3, 2015 at 17:50

Hello,
Can you please tell me what parts of the pineapple plant are used to make the tea? Just the buds or the buds and the stalk?
My gravel driveway is loaded with the (weed) plant and I am thrilled that I can now use the plant to make tea!!
:0) Kathleena

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Leah Willden June 26, 2016 at 17:09

The article says use the young flower buds for tea or salads, the rest off the plant can be used as insect repellent.

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kevH April 2, 2015 at 18:44

Do you think this plant would survive, better than other species, in areas where soil has been compacted due to people taking a ‘short cu’t over a grassed area?

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Green Deane April 2, 2015 at 20:37

Few plants like that because the soil its dense. In our driveway it grew between the tire tracks, not in the tire tracks.

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Jo-Anne March 6, 2017 at 17:15

I have found this plant, pineappleweed, growing on and beside footpaths. Vehicle traffic compacts the ground more easily and thoroughly than footstrikes do, so I suspect there’s a critical threshold of foot traffic below which it would survive on a ‘short-cut’ path.

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Leon July 31, 2013 at 04:41

Thanks for including this in your recent news letter. Now I know what to look for, I found this once invisible plant growing everywhere where paths have compacted the surrounding soil.

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Dem C May 23, 2013 at 14:05

I love your website!! Thank you so much for all this useful info! I used to use these as landscaping for my miniature cities I built in my drive way, as a kid. In you guessed it.. Maine 🙂

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Margarita May 14, 2013 at 11:14

WELL… My name is Margarita. I wish it was Jane. Anyway, I go to Skyline High School. I do AP biology, and other AP’s at Pioneer and Huron. I am writing because I had to do a project on a dandelion. So I searched Dandelion and I found http://www.eattheweeds.com/, and BOOM! Instant information!! SO, next time you have a project on a plant look up eattheweeds.com for the best and most information!

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Samantha Bartholomew May 10, 2013 at 14:19

I am stuck on the topic of pineapple weeds, they are delicious too! Your website helped me get through my science class! I always make tea when I see the weed on my nature walks! Me and my friends always take your tips! the mayapple is also a great link! Id like you to notice that my passion for this website and that I want to be a wildlife explorer! I hike and explore the outdoors 24/7! I want to find something new out in that big world! I honestly do want to be a wildlife explorer, be just like Columbus but in wildlife, doing what I do with plants are what id like to do and go places with my life, this IS important for me!

-Thanks so much for your time!
Samantha Bartholomew

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Amelia Grainway May 10, 2013 at 14:00

Well, to be begin, I think that your site is helpful. I think you people who put together this, did a really great job. I would use your sites to do research, on other plant projects. I am REALLY into plants. I even want to be a botanist when I grow up. I am in the middle of doing a Pineapple Weed project for my science class. I think I have one bibliography site at the moment….YOURS! I really want you to understand my passion for http://www.eattheweeds.com!

-Love Amelia

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Helen Marie Annedly May 10, 2013 at 14:09

Amelia, I agree with you. I am doing mine on Mayapple. The site has not only provided info, but I feel like it is more than that. The site is my FSE. Favorite site ever! It is so helpful. I have been using it all through fifth and sixth grade. I promise, I will use it in seventh, and 4ever! I would also like to be a botanist when I grow up. I am into plants. Science is my favorite subject in the world. This has made me go even farther into my passion.

-Helen Marie

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Helen Marie May 10, 2013 at 14:11

Sorry, But Amelia, What school do you go to?

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RM McWilliams July 24, 2013 at 03:19

It’s great to hear from young people who have a passion for plants.
Botanists with formal training who do not have a prejudice against useful plants that have been considered to be ‘weeds’ can play a key role in opening peoples’ minds.

By the way, it is my understanding that the ‘people’ responsible for this website, at least for all the articles, is Green Deane himself. (He even mentions that this is the reason there are a sprinkling of typos to be found on the site.) Quite an accomplishment, and a valuable resource, as you have discovered.

Best wishes!

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Green Deane July 24, 2013 at 07:21

Yes, I wrote every article. The site, the forum, and the videos… It is all a one-man band (thus far.)

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