Chamaemelum nobile (flower)

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Chamaemelum nobile (L.) All.   Asteraceae  
Syn. Anthemis nobilis L.  
Standardized common name (English): Roman chamomile

Botanical Voucher Specimen


Chamaemelum nobile Kew imageBarcode=K000410976 69606.jpg
Source: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.[1]

Organoleptic Characteristics

The whole herb has a peculiar fragrant odor, and a bitter aromatic taste. [...] It is [...] in aromatic flavor [rather] than in bitterness that the radial florets are surpassed by those of the disk. [...] Strong aromatic odor; taste bitter.

Chamomile flowers are large, almost spherical, of a dull white color, a fragrant odor, and a warmish, bitter, aromatic taste. When fresh, their odor is much stronger, and was fancied by the ancients to resemble that of the apple. Hence the name chamaemelum; and it is somewhat singular that the Spanish name manzanilla (a little apple) has a similar derivation.
Source: United States Dispensatory (1918) [2]

Macroscopic Characteristics

Anthemis nobilis is an herbaceous plant with a perennial root.

The stems are from six inches to a foot long, round, slender, downy, trailing, and divided into branches, which turn upward at their extremities. The leaves are bipinnate, the leaflets small, thread-like, somewhat pubescent, acute, and generally divided into three segments. The flowers are solitary, with a yellow convex disk, and white rays. The involucre is of a hemispherical form, and composed of several small imbricated hairy scales. The receptacle is convex, prominent, and furnished with rigid bristle-like paleae. The ray florets are numerous, narrow and terminated with three small teeth.

By cultivation the yellow disk florets are often converted into the white ray florets. Thus altered, the flowers are said to be double, while those which remain unchanged are called single; but, as the conversion may be more or less complete, it generally happens that with each of the varieties there are intermingled some flowers of the other kind, or in different stages of the change. The double flowers are generally preferred; though, as the sensible properties are found in the greatest -degree in the disk florets, the single flower heads are the more powerful. [...] If not well and quickly dried, the flowers lose their beautiful white color, and are less efficient. The flowers which are largest, most double, and whitest should be preferred. They are thus described: "Flower-heads hemispherical, from about twelve to twenty millimetres in diameter, white or pale buff in color. Involucre composed of several rows of oblong bracts with membranous margins; receptable solid, conical, and densely covered with concave, blunt, narrow, scaly bracts; florets mostly ligulate and white, the ligula possessing four veins and terminating in three teeth." Br

Source: United States Dispensatory (1918) [3]


PlantaPhile - 2568.jpg
Source: PlantaPhile[4]

Microscopic Characteristics

bottomright bottomright

Roman chamomile.jpg
Thin walled cells of paleae seen in polarized light observed at 400x with Acidified Chloral Hydrate Glycerol Solution.
Source: Elan M. Sudberg, Alkemist Laboratories[5]

Roman chamomile-1.jpg
Long covering trichome with 4 short basal cells observed at 400x with Acidified Chloral Hydrate Glycerol Solution.
Source: Elan M. Sudberg, Alkemist Laboratories[6]

High Performance Thin Layer Chromatographic Identification

Roman chamomile (flower) HPTLC ID - Anisaldehyde reagent, UV 366 nm

Roman chamomile (flower) (Chamaemelum nobile)

Lane Assignments Lanes, from left to right (Track, Volume, Sample):

  1. 1 µL Feverfew flower from Mexico
  2. 2 µL Feverfew flower from Mexico
  3. 4 µL Feverfew flower from Mexico
  4. 3 µL Feverfew flower
  5. 3.5 µL Feverfew flower
  6. 4 µL Feverfew flower
  7. 2 µL Parthenolide
  8. 2 µL Apigenin
  9. 1 µL Roman Chamomile flower
  10. 2 µL Roman Chamomile flower
  11. 4 µL Roman Chamomile flower
  12. 1 µL Matricaria flower
  13. 2 µL Matricaria flower
  14. 4 µL Matricaria flower
  15. 1 µL Matricaria flower oil 

Reference Sample(s) Reference: Dissolve 1.5 mg of apigenin in 5 mL of methanol. Dissolve 1 mg of parthenolide in 5 mL of methanol. 

Stationary Phase Stationary phase, i.e. Silica gel 60, F254 

Mobile Phase Ethyl acetate, cyclohexane 1:1 (v/v) 

Sample Preparation Method Sample:Mix 1 g of powdered sample with 10 mL of methanol and sonicate for 10 minutes, then centrifuge or filter the solutions and use the supernatants / filtrates as test solutions. Dissolve 10 µL of the essential oil in 1 mL of toluene.

Derivatization reagent: Anisaldehyde reagent; Preparation: 170 mL of ice-cooled methanol are mixed with 20 mL of acetic acid, 10 mL of sulfuric acid and 1 mL of anisaldehyde; Use: Dip (time 0, speed 5), heat at 100°C for 4 min. 

Detection Method Saturated chamber; developing distance 70 mm from lower edge; relative humidity 33% 

Other Notes Images presented in this entry are examples and are not intended to be used as basis for setting specifications for quality control purposes.

System suitability test (UV 366 nm): Apigenin: blue zone at Rf ~ 0.20; Parthenolide: pink zone at Rf ~ 0.48

Identification: Compare result with reference images. The fingerprint of the test solution is similar to that of the corresponding botanical reference sample. Additional weak zones may be present. Under UV 366 nm the chromatogram of the test solution shows a strongly tailing blue zone at the position of reference substance apigenin at Rf ~ 0.20. There is a characteristic greenish zone (red zone under white light) at Rf ~ 0.30 and an intense orange zone (violet zone under white light) at Rf ~ 0.7 (yellow arrows).

Test for adulteration: Under UV 366 nm there are no intense red zones (violet zone under white light) between Rf ~ 0.20 and 0.30. No blue zone is seen at the position of parthenolide (orange arrows; Feverfew flower from Mexico). Under UV 366 nm no pink zone (violet zone under white light) at Rf ~ 0.48 corresponding to reference substance parthenolide is seen and there are no brown zones at the position of apigenin at Rf ~ 0.20 (green arrows, Feverfew flower). Under UV 366 nm no blue zone is seen at the position of parthenolide (blue arrow; Chamomile flower). Chamomile flower oil does not show any zones below Rf ~ 0.60.

Source: HPTLC Association [7]

Supplementary Information


  1. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
  2. United States Dispensatory (1918)
  3. United States Dispensatory (1918)
  4. PlantaPhile
  5. Elan M. Sudberg, Alkemist Laboratories
  6. Elan M. Sudberg, Alkemist Laboratories
  7. HPTLC Association
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