This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
A familiar cornfield pest (to the farmer at least), Stinking Mayweed is found in Europe, North Africa, Siberia, West Asia, and has been introduced into North America. It is unknown in early deposits. In Great Britain it is found in the Peninsula, Channel, Thames, Anglia and Severn provinces, except in West Gloucs and Monmouth; in Wales in Brecon, Carmarthen, Pembroke, Carnarvon, Denbigh, Flint, Anglesea; in the Trent, Mersey, Humber, Tyne, and Lakes provinces, except in Westmorland; and in Dumfries, Lanark, Roxburgh, Haddington, Edinburgh, Fife, Dumbarton, Hebrides. It is thus rare in the N. of England and in Scotland. It is common in Ireland, except in the N.W. of Ireland. Watson regarded it as a colonist.
Stinking Mayweed is confined almost entirely to cultivated ground, being common in cornfields and other arable tracts, and also on waste ground, in gardens, and allotments. It may be found near hayricks or cattle-sheds, stackyards, and farmyards, being always a follower of the plough.
This plant generally grows in a solitary manner, with one or more at most associated. The stems are erect, with few branches. The leaves are stalkless, alternate, many times divided nearly to the base, with linear, awl-shaped segments, smooth, and dark-green. The florets of the receptacle are yellow, those of the ray white. The receptacle is conical. The phyllaries are bristle-like, and shorter than the disk florets, which are flat. There is no pappus. There is a scale between each two florets. The fruit, an achene, is strongly ribbed on the back. The height of the stem is 1 ft. The Stinking Mayweed flowers from June to September. It is annual, and multiplied by seeds.
Photo. H. Irving - Stinking Mayweed (Anthemis Cotula, L.)
The ray florets are white and neuter, with neither stamens nor pistil; the disk florets are flattened, bisexual, the tubes terminating in 5 teeth. The flowers are strong-scented, with a disagreeable smell. The flowers are conspicuous, and the plant is likely to be cross-pollinated frequently when not (as is usual) growing amid corn. The fruit is winged or ribbed, assisting in its dispersal by aid of the wind. The disagreeable taste and smell, in which it differs from Matricaria inodora, may serve as a protection against animals.
A sand soil is the chief requirement of Stinking Mayweed, but it is also satisfied with rock soils of many different types and ages.
A beetle, Apion sorbi, and three moths, Chamomile Shark (Cucullia chamomillae), Eupoecilia anthemidiana, and Lozopera smeathmanniana, live on it.
Anthemis is from the Greek anthos, a flower; and Cotula, Brunfels, is a Greek word for a small cup or hollow vessel.
The names by which it is chiefly known are Balder Brae, Baldeye-brow, Camomile, Dog's or Stinking Camomile, Camovyne, Dog or Horse Daisy, Dog-binder, Dog-fennel, Dog-finkle, Flowan, Hog's Fennel, Jayweed, Madder, Madenwede, Marse, Marg, Mathes, Mayweed, Morgan, Murg, Poison Daisy. Balder's Brae, i.e. Baldur's Brow, refers to the white brow of Baldur, the popular northern deity, given in Sweden. The prose Edda speaking of Baldur says: "So fair and dazzling is he in form and features that rays of light seem to issue from him, and thou mayst have some idea of his beauty when I tell thee that the whitest of all plants is called Baldur's Brow".
This plant was once used for hysteria, haemorrhage, swellings, scrofula, rheumatism. It is acrid.
Essential Specific Characters:158. Anthemis Cotula, L. - Stem branched, erect, furrowed, angular, leaves bipinnatifid, glabrous, linear segments, flowerheads white, with yellow disk, ray florets without styles, phyllaries with membranous margins.