A Tea Lovers soul weed

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A Tea-Lover`s Soul Weed 

by Jenny Harker

We gardeners spend hours yanking weeds out of our precious flowerbeds. To be honest, I enjoy weeding. I find it relaxing. I suspect quite a few of my fellow gardeners would agree.

Recently I discovered an annoying weed I haven`t been able to defeat is in truth a sheer delight. I speak of the humble Pineapple Weed.

Matricaria matricioides! A big name for a weed found in waste areas. But its scientific name is actually touching once defined.

`Matricaria` stems from the Latin matrix meaning `mother` while `caria` is Latin for `dear`. This gives us `mother dear`.

This name refers to the medicinal use of pineapple weed for easing the pain of the menstrual cycle, as well as for treating colic in babies.

Pineapple weed can soothe the pain of being a woman, a mother, or a baby (which helps Mom even more).

This plant`s green fern-like foliage and oval greenish yellow flowers often cause people to mistake it for its close relative the chamomile plant. Pineapple weed looks like chamomile while in bud, only this weed`s homely flowers never produce the flashy white petals of its famous cousin.

Visit this link to see a photo: http://www.wssa.net/photo&info/bmp/pineapple.weed.plant.jpg 

This native annual of Western America makes its stubborn presence known from May to November. It grows in cracks in sidewalks, parking lots, in any plot of dry earth trampled by we humans. The pineapple weed has spread clear across the Atlantic to Europe.

I discovered the hidden charm of this weed while pulling a group out of the ground. The crushed leaves actually give off the fruity scent of pineapple.

Intrigued, I did some research. I learned this weed is not only edible, with the same soothing qualities as chamomile, but was also a big hit with the Native Americans way back when.

Native Americans traded goods for pineapple weed. The plant was used as a perfume as well as a big repellant. Dried plants were sprinkled onto meat to keep off flies.

But what caught my attention while researching is the fact this weed is often brewed as a tea.

Being a devout tea-drinker this delighted me. I already make tea from my peppermint plants. Why not put this pesky weed to good use?

After rinsing three dusty plants in the sink I brewed a pot of pineapple weed tea by pouring freshly boiled water into a tea strainer holding flower heads from the plants (the leaves can also be used but they add a bitter note to the brew). I allowed the tea to steep for three minutes before removing the strainer
from the pot.

The result was nothing short of wonderful! The delicately fragrant tea tasted like gentle chamomile with honey. A young friend described the tea as tasting like a `yummy dessert in a cup`.

I no longer buy chamomile tea at the grocery store. Instead I harvest my pineapple weed from a proper garden bed. I allow a few flower heads to develop into seed heads, which I collect for future planting.

(Sidebar: Why did I buy chamomile tea instead of grow the herb? I`m asking myself this question. Think of the money I could have saved! Oh, my lord. I`m an idiot.)

With good care the pineapple weed becomes a handsome soul a foot tall with attractive ferny foliage. Collect the brown seed heads from wild plants if you wish to grow it. Grow it as you would chamomile.

Pineapple weed can also be used as an accent plant with other more traditional garden plants. The chartreuse color of the flower heads glow when mixed in with blue-flowering plants.

But be careful! We are talking about a weed, and we all know how easily weeds spread. Collect the seed heads before they turn completely brown, or you`ll wind up drowning in tea.

Visitors to my garden often point out my pineapple weed bed and tell me I need to weed. I inform them I grow the weeds on purpose. My visitors look at me as if I`m crazy. Weeds are pests! Has she finally lost her mind?

I explain my reason (it happens so often that explaining is growing tiresome). My visitors wind up sniffing the plants and peppering me with questions.

So, the next time you`re on your knees in your garden about to yank out another weed stop yourself and take a good look at the plant.

You may have found a Cinderella in disguise.

Disclaimer: The results I achieved with this plant are solely my own. I am not responsible for any adverse effects you may experience as a result of consuming the Pineapple Weed. Please do not consume any wild plant until you are sure of its identification and any dangers it may pose. If you suffer from plant allergies then please check with your doctor first.

Author Jenny Harker is an experienced gardener, psychic, and writer. Visit: http://www.livejournal.com/~paragarden/ 

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