Image by WikimediaImages from Pixabay Pineappleweed

Pineappleweed (Matricaria discoidea)
In Irish: Lus na hiothlann

Eat the weeds. You don’t have to go deep into the forest or out into the wilds to forage. Urban foraging in towns and cities is just as valid and just as exciting. Today we’re looking at this kerbside warrior, pineappleweed!

Pineappleweed

Because this is such a persistent plant, forage as much as you want!

Where to find pineappleweed

I mentioned kerbs for a good reason! Take a glance down at your feet while you stroll and chances are you’ll come across it in urban spaces. This hardy plant can be spotted blooming on footpaths, roadsides and disturbed soil in spring and early summer.

How to identify Pineappleweed

It can be identified by its small, daisy-like flowers which lack petals and instead have yellow-green, conical centres that resemble teeny tiny pineapples. The leaves are finely divided, feathery, and have a sweet, pineapple-like scent when crushed.

It’s a low-growing plant, usually reaching about 10-40 cm in height. Its pineapple scent and conical flower heads are key identifiers distinguishing it from other similar-looking weeds.

Lookalikes

  • Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla or Chamaemelum nobile): Chamomile has similar finely divided, feathery leaves and daisy-like flowers. However, chamomile flowers have white petals around a yellow centre, unlike the petal-less, conical flowers of pineappleweed.
  • Scentless Mayweed (Tripleurospermum inodorum): This plant has finely divided leaves and daisy-like flowers with white petals. The key difference is that scentless mayweed doesn’t have a distinctive pineapple scent when its leaves are crushed.
  • Common Mayweed (Anthemis cotula): a.k.a stinking chamomile, it has daisy-like flowers with white petals and yellow centres. Its leaves are similar but emit an unpleasant odour when crushed, unlike the sweet pineapple scent of pineappleweed.

How to harvest

Just don’t pick any that has been well trodden on or is by heavy traffic zones or industrial sites. Look for vibrant, healthy plants free from pollution, pesticides, or herbicides. You have two choices, scissors or a good ‘ole fashioned pinching to remove the flower heads.

Place the heads into a breathable container like a basket or paper bag to prevent moisture buildup. Avoid using plastic bags as they can cause the plants to sweat and go gross!

Health Benefits of pineappleweed

Pineappleweed shares the medicinal and herbal qualities of chamomile e.g. soothe digestion and alleviate stress.

Pineappleweed (Matricaria discoidea)
In Irish: Lus na hiothlann

Image by WikimediaImages from Pixabay

How to eat

The flowers of this urban plant exude a chamomile or pineapple aroma when they’re crushed. Historically they have been used in salads and to make herbal tea but it’s worth noting that they may become bitter when the plant blooms.

Recipe: Pineappleweed Ice Cream

This is a two-day recipe as you’ll need to wait for things to infuse overnight.

Ingredients

  • Large bunch of pineappleweed (including the leaves)
  • 250ml double cream
  • 250ml full milk (you could also try this with coconut milk!)
  • 2 tsp organic honey

Special equipment

  • If you’re fancy and you have an ice cream maker, use it after step 5. Otherwise, you can do it all by hand!

Method

  1. Roughly chop the pineappleweed.
  2. Add to a stainless steel pan along with the cream, milk and honey and bring to a gentle simmer.
  3. Simmer for 10 minutes and then leave to cool. Infuse overnight.
  4. The next day, you want to make sure it’s not solidified. So bring it back using heat and strain through a sieve. To get as much flavour out as possible, squeeze the leaf stems.
  5. Leave to cool.
  6. Add the mixture into a tub for the freezer and whisk every 2 hours. You want it to end up super smooth.

If you are satisfied you have correctly identified this plant, you can submit your sighting to the National Biodiversity Data Centre here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *