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chamomile or camomile (both: kămˈəmĪlˌ, –mēlˌ) [key] [Gr., = ground apple], name for various related plants of the family Asteraceae (aster family), especially the perennial Anthemis nobilis, the English, or Roman, chamomile, and the annual Matricaria chamomilla, the German, or wild, chamomile. Both are European herbs with similar uses. The former has an applelike aroma and is the chamomile most frequently grown for ornament (often as a ground cover) and for chamomile tea, made from the dried flower heads, which contain a volatile oil. The oil from the similar flowers of the wild chamomile was most often used medicinally, particularly as a tonic; today its chief use is as a hair rinse. Chamomile is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Asterales, family Asteraceae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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