Systematics

In 1664, Tabernaemontanus [19] distinguished six different varieties of chamomile (contrary to Dioscorides, who distinguished three):

1. "Unsere gemeine Chamillenblum" ("our common chamomile flower") is identified as the plant named Anthemis or Leucanthemum by Dioscoride and Galeno. "Dann wann wir die Beschreibung DIOSKORIDIS mit fleiß übersehen/und das Capitel von dem wolriechenden Kräutlein Anthemidis oder Leucanthemi vorhanden nehmen/die liebliche Gestalt und Abconterfeyung dieser wolriechenden Chamillenblumen dagegenhalten/darneben auch ihre Krafft und Wirckung beyderseits erwegen/so beyde diesem Kräutlein oder Blumen von DIOSCORIDE und GALENO zugeschrieben/und auch durch langwürige tägliche Erfahrung gewiß erfunden worden/können wir mit der Warheit nicht anders urtheilen/dann daß unser wolriechend gemeine Feld- Chamillen/das recht Anthemis und Leucanthemum der Alten seye." (Old High German: "If we duly disregard Dioscorides' description/and go through the chapter about the sweet-scented herb Anthe-midis or Leucanthemi/comparing it with the lovely appearance of these fragrant cham-omile flowers/considering also their power as well as their effect/both ascribed to this herb by Dioscoride and Galeno/and also found by long daily experience/we can only say that the sweet-scented ordinary/common field chamomile/is the true Anthemis and Leucanthemum of the ancients.")

2. "Römisch Chamillen" ("Roman chamomile"). "Das andere Geschlecht der Chamillen Leucanthemi ist den Alten unbekannt gewesen/und nicht von ihnen beschrieben worden: Das ist erstlich auß Hispanien/Engelland und andern frembden Orten zu uns gebracht worden und ist heutigen Tags in Teutschland sehr gemein " ("The other variety of Chamomile Leucanthemi was unknown to the ancients/and it was not described by them. It was first brought to us from Spain/England and other foreign places, nowadays it is very common in Germany ...")

In this case the modern variety of Chamaemelum nobile (L.) All. is obviously meant.

3. "Gefüllt Römisch Chamillen" ("Filled Roman chamomile"). Here the modern variety of Chamaemelum nobile (L.) All. is meant as well.

4. "Gefüllt Römisch Chamillen anderer Gattung" ("Filled Roman chamomile of another genus"). In this case the determination is not clear. Among others, the designation indicated by Tabernaemontanus (1664) [19] is "Chamaemelum Anglicum flore multiplici ... dieweil solche auß Engelland erstlich zu uns in Teutschland gebracht worden seynd" (". because they were brought from England to Germany for the first time").

5. "Geel Chamillen" ("yellow chamomile"), probably meaning Anthemis tinctoria L.

6. "Rothe Chamillen" ("red chamomile"). This is probably Adonis aestivalis L. or Adonis flammea Jacq. being indicated by the following description: "Gegen dem Brachmonat bringt es an den Gipffeln der Stengel und Nebenästlein über die maß schöne/rothe/Mennigfarbe/oder feuerrothe Blümlein/inwendig mit einem schwarzen Bützlin/hat ein jede Blum sieben Blättlein/die seynd am end ein wenig hintersich zurück gebogen. Nach der Blüth folgewn kleine stachlichte Kölblein/darinnen der Saamen verschlossen ist" ("towards June most beautiful/miniaceous/or small fire red flowers/are produced at the end of the stems and their small side branches/inside with a black center/every flower has seven small leaves/which are somewhat bent down at the end. After flowering small thorny spadices are following/where the seeds are to be found"). The name also points to this classification: ". Oculus daemonis. Teutsch/roth Chamillen/und in Thüringen/Teufels Aug/von wegen der rothen Fewerfarben Blumen" ("Oculus daemonis. German/red chamomile/and in Thuringia/devil's eye/because of the fire red flowers").

Although the systematic status is quite clear nowadays, there are a number of inaccuracies concerning the names. Apart from misdeterminations and confusion, the synonymous use of the names of Anthemis, Chamomilla, and Matricaria leads to uncertainty with regard to the botanical identification, particularly in the area of English speech. So, in the BelgV Anthemis nobilis L. is called "Chamomillae flos." "Marokkanische Kamille" ("Moroccan chamomile") often consists of Ormenis multicaulis Braun-Blanq. et Maire [4].

Moreover, the nomenclatural situation is complicated by the fact that Linneaus made mistakes in the first edition of his Species Plantarum that he corrected later on. According to this description "Matricaria chamomilla L. 1753" is definitely not the name for True chamomile medically used but for Scentless chamomile. The name applicable to True chamomile is the one of the species published at the same time, i.e., Matricaria recutita L. [12,18].

The name of the genus of "Matricaria" used by Linneaus is derived from matrix (womb). The popular name of "Mutterkraut" ("Mother's Herb") also points to the application for various female complaints, being surely derived from this range of applications. As, however, the Parthenion mentioned by Dioscoride does not stand for True chamomile but for Tanacetum parthenium, the popular German name of "Mutterkraut" ( "Mother's Herb") also used by Zander [21] should not be used for chamomile.

The genus of Matricaria in a wider sense is often divided into: Tripleurospermum Schultz-Bip. among others with Matricaria maritima and Matricaria perforata (syn. M. inodora) and Matricaria sensu stricto among others with Matricaria recutita L. (syn. Matricaria chamomilla L.) and Matricaria suaveolens (syn. M. matricarioides).

This division needs a revision. Linneaus does not seem to have separated Matricaria chamomilla and Matricaria maritima, including M. inodora. In 1974 Rauschert pointed out that Linneaus used M. chamomilla rather than M. maritima for M. chamomilla in a modern sense [12].

It seems to be quite obvious that Linné used the name of Matricaria recutita for our medically applied chamomile (Matricariae flos, Ph. Eur. 4.6). Later Linné named this tribe called Matricaria suaveolens "suavius olens."

In his systematic reinvestigation Rauschert [12] also mentions that when dividing the genus Linné called Matricaria, the separated part with our medically used chamomile should bear the name of Chamomilla S.F. Gray, and that furthermore the name of Matricaria L. sensu stricto would be correct for the genus of Tripleurospermum Schultz-Bip. In volume IV (pp. 58-60) of Flora Europea the medically used chamomile was called Chamomilla recutita (L.) Rauschert, whereas the scentless chamomile was given the names Matricaria maritima L. and Matricaria perforata Mérat (syn. M. inodora L.).

Considering a new botanical classification there is a mere nomenclatural problem on the one hand (viz., whether the name of "Chamomilla," "Matricaria," or "Tripleurospermum" should be used), and on the other hand there is a systematic problem (viz., whether the genus fixed by Linné is to be segregated).

When segregating Linné's genus of Matricaria L. into the genera of Chamomilla S.F. Gray and Matricaria L. sensu stricto another difficulty arises because Matricaria chamomilla was chosen as a species type of the genus of Matricaria [9]; so — according to Rauschert [12] — True chamomile would be added to the genus of Chamomilla. What speaks against it is the fact that "Matricaria chamomilla 1753" does not correspond to the diagnosis of the genus, as the achenes have a coronule. Thus, the choice of the species type was made by mistake, and Matricaria recutita has to be regarded as a type of the genus [18]. The differences to be found in botanical literature still continue today. In connection with the aim of this book the name of Matricaria recutita L. (syn. M. chamomilla L., Chamomilla recutita L. Rauschert) should, however, be used; this is particularly recommended as even in the latest literature — with exception of Flora Europea — and in all pharmacopoeias at present the name of Matricaria recutita L. is used.

For a considerable length of time it was not quite clear as to whether chemical races exist within the species of Matricaria recutita L. Personal investigations as well as tests of other teams point to the existence of genetically conditioned chemical variations in local populations. Instead of using the word "race," the more neutral term of "dem" should be applied with Matricaria recutita L. [8,14]; even more precise are the terms "chemodem," "ecodem," and "topodem." Considering the fact that chamomile is a widely common plant the existence of chemodems, topodems, and ecodems is not only very likely but the research results of several working groups confirm that such "dems" exist. The following chamomile varieties still traded a few years ago could be called topodems, because their names give knowledge of the regions from which they originate: Holsteiner Marschkamille (Holstein Marsh chamomile), Ostfriesische Kamille (East Frisian chamomile), Fränkische Kamille (Franconian chamomile), Niederbayrische Kamille (Lower Bavarian chamomile), Quedlinburger großblütige Kamille (Quedlinburg large-flowered chamomile), Erfurter kleinblütige Kamille (Erfurt small-flowered chamomile), Böhmische Kamille (Bohemian chamomile). However, a number of goods still handled today, coming from wild collections and not from selective cultivation of breeding lines, may also be put into this category (for example, Egyptian chamomile, Hungarian Puszta chamomile, Argentinian chamomile, Spanish chamomile).

Moreover, there are chamomile chemocultivars (cultivar = cv), thus "chemical races" produced by breeding and maintained constant by maintenance breeding. Depending on the spectrum of active principles, the culture varieties could, for example, be specified as Matricaria recutita L. cv. "rich in bisabolol" or as Matricaria recutita L. cv. "rich in bisabololoxide" (see Section 5.3).

Nonradial chamomile, Scentless chamomile, Roman chamomile, as well as the species of Anthemis have to be distinguished from "True chamomile."

Different species can appear as confusion or falsification of the collected drug. Here are some distinctive features of some of these other Anthemis and Matricaria species and how they can be used [6]:

1. Without scale-like palets between the flowers of the capitulum

• Capitulum bottom cone-shaped long, hollow

Plant with white ligulate flowers, smells pleasantly of chamomile (typical chamo-mile smell), annual ^ True chamomile (Matricaria recutita L.)

Plant without white ligulate flowers, smells like chamomile (typical chamomile scent), annual ^ Rayless chamomile (Matricaria matricarioides [Less.] Porter, syn. Matricaria discoidea DC.)

• Capitulum bottom-arched or only short cone-shaped, marrowy. Plant without typical chamomile scent, but smells not unpleasant. Flower capitulum big (diameter approx. 3 cm), annual, biennial (or perennial) ^ Odorless, false chamomile (Matricaria maritima L.)

2. With, at least in the middle part of the flower capitulum, small setiform paleae between the flowers of the flower heads

• Palets longish acuminate or with pointed stings

Plant with revolting smell, annual ^ Stinking chamomile (Anthemis cotula L.)

Plant without revolting smell, mostly annual ^ Field chamomile (Anthemis arven-sis L.)

Palets blunt, with dry tips. Plant smells pleasantly, perennial, many-headed rootstock ^ Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile [L.] All. syn. Anthemis nobilis L.)

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