Annual or perennial resembling German chamomile (Chamomilla recutita). Has slightly hairy stems and large solitary daisy-type flowers. As the name stinking mayweed suggests, this plant has an unpleasant smell and taste.
Habitat & Cultivation
This herb commonly grows wild in Europe, the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, and Siberia. The flowers and leaves are gathered in summer.
Mayweed contains sesquiterpene lactones (including anthecotulide).
History & Folklore
In his Irish Herbal of 1735, the herbalist K’Eogh states that mayweed is “good for women with the falling down of the womb, if they but wash their feet with a decoction of it.”
Medicinal Actions & Uses
Although it looks similar to German chamomile, mayweed is far less effective as a medicine. It has been used as an antispasmodic and to induce menstruation, and was traditionally employed for supposedly hysterical conditions relating to the uterus.
The whole plant can cause blistering if applied fresh to the skin. Do not take during pregnancy or if breastfeeding.