Organic Cultivation of Camomile in North America

in HortScience
Authors: W. Letchamo1 and A. Gosselin1
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  • 1 Horticultural Research Centre, Dept. of Plant Science, Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, Laval Univ., Quebec, Canada G1K 7P4.

Camomile (Chamomilla recutita Rauschert) is an annual plant from the Asteraceae. Camomile is one of the most frequently used medicinal plants, and has a commanding place in the world market. The flower heads are used in pharmaceutical preparations, and the cosmetic and beverage industries. The extracts from camomile flowers, to mention some, are known to have the most-effective sedative (3.29× compared to papaverin), antidepressive, tumor -protective, antiinflammatory, and accelerative properties in the regeneration of skin tissues. It is considered a panecia, due to its strong effects among many others, in the treatment of gastric ulcers, stomatology, respiratory complications, nephritis and nephrolithiasis (dilution of the kidney stones), and urinary bladder stones (cystolithiasis). Recently, successful research programs have been carried out to develop new camomile varieties with higher flower yield and better content of the active substances, suitable for mechanical harvesting under conventional cultivation. Apart from growing consumer demand for organically grown herbal products, the use of some herbicides and insecticides has resulted in the shifts of the content of active substances. The yield stability, content, and composition of the active substances under organic cultivation, particularly in areas with extreme climatic conditions, such as northern North America, should be investigated. We identified and introduced new camomile varieties and studied their suitability for organic field cultivation in Quebec, Canada. We studied over-wintering ability, yield potentials, and the content and composition of essential oil, flavonoids, and coumarins under field conditions. The physiology of the new varieties, particularly the relationship between photosynthesis and yield formation, and the accumulation of the active substances under different cultivation conditions remain to be studied.

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