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Cota tinctoria - Yellow chamomile

Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Asterales - Family: Asteraceae

Cota tinctoria

Until quite recently, this wildflower was generally referred to by its synonymous scientific name Anthemis tinctoria.

Description

A bushy perennial usually growing to a height of 20 to 80cm, Yellow Chamomile is one of the lovely bright wildflowers that light up the Mediterranean region and southern Europe in spring and early summer. The plant has distinctive reddish hairy stems, curly two-fold pinnate, deeply serrated alternate leaves, and flowerheads 2 to 4cm across with yellow disc florets and yellow ray florets.

Cota tinctoria, close-up of flowers

Distribution

This common and widespread member of the Daisy family (asteraceae, formerly known as the compositae) originated in Mediterranean countries and parts of southern Asia. Spread by its use in dyeing, Yellow Chamomile now occurs in the wild in France and eastwards towards Turkey, and is also present further south including in the Iberian Peninsula.

Habitat

Look out for Yellow Chamomile on dry roadside verges, scrubland and fallow farmland.

Flowering Times

The main flowering period for Yellow Chamomile is from May until September. The Yellow Chamomile plants shown on this page were photographed in the Algarve region of southern Portugal in May.

Uses

Yellow Chamomile was once used as a source of yellow dye, and it is also a popular garden flower because of its pleasant smell.

Etymology

The origin of the current genus name Cota is not known to us (any suggestions are most welcome); however, Anthemis, the former genus name, comes from the Greek anthemon, meaning flower, and indicates that this plant produces many flowers. The specific epithet tinctoria reflects the fact that these flowers were used to produce dye.


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