I guarantee, if you live in the UK and have ever walked in a park or the countryside you would have at some point stepped on this abundant and unassuming plant – Pineapple Weed.
Also know an Wild Chamomile this common weed is another edible plant that is over-looked by most. With properties similar to that of common chamomile we are all familiar with, it is surprising this weed is not more well known.
It is the end of the summer in the UK and I have been out in my local park harvesting a big batch of Pineapple Weed, some of which I will dry for teas over the winter, and the rest I am going to experiment with. Let’s see what I come up with!
Pineapple Weed is a small straggly looking weed that tends to grow around 10-30cm tall. It has pinnately dissected leaves which have a feathery appearance. The flower heads have large centers which are a yellowy-green colour and have tiny stunted petals. These are so small they are hard to see, so the flowers look like yellow ball atop their stalks.
Pineapple Weed looks very similar to chamomile without the characteristic white flowers. The way to determine you have found Pineapple weed and not chamomile or mayweed (another similar species) is the strong, discernible pineapple smell the flowers have. Its this smell and a pineapple taste that makes this such an interesting weed.
Pineapple weed loves poor, compacted soil. It will often be found along pathways and tracks or along roadsides.
The flowers on pineapple weed are present and best to forage from late spring until late summer.
The story goes, that Pineapple Weed escaped from Kew Gardens in London back in the 18th Century. Previously an Asian plant it was introduced in this cultivated setting. After escaping it was become one of the fastest spreading plants in the UK since!
Pineapple weed has similar properties to that of camomile. The medicinal uses of Pineapple Weed are as follows:
Good for digestion
Can be used to treat sores
Used to treat fevers
An insect repellent
A mild sedative to help treat insomnia
Pain relief from either drinking a tea, or using a tincture with a hot compress on achey muscles or joints
The antioxidants can improve skin health and can be used for psoriasis, eczema or insect bites.
In the kitchen
Again, similar to chamomile, one of the main uses of pineapple weed is to make a tea. Just harvesting 6 or 7 of the flower tops and seeping it in hot water for 2-3 minutes you will have yourself a refreshing and healing tea.
The leaves and flower tops can be used raw and added to salads.
Infusions using the flower tops can be used to make ice teas or cordials providing a mild pineapple flavour.
Again using the flower tops, a syrup can be made, which can be added to variety of puddings and sweet treats. Or simply drizzle this syrup over yogurt, fruits or on your porridge in the morning .
I had a go making the syrup and adding it to my favourite vegan flapjack recipe. I can whipped up some gooey crystallised pineapple chunks to add to the flapjacks giving it that extra sticky, pineapple taste in every bite.
Check out the recipe I used below. Happy foraging!
Vegan pineapple Weed Flapjacks
A deliciously fruity vegan flapjack using this common weed