Pineapple weed (Matricaria discoidea), also known as wild chamomile, is an annual plant native to East Asia, and is found in many areas of Alaska where it is an introduced plant. It grows low to the ground and produces yellow flowers in a cone-shape. It is in the Family Asteraceae, making it a relative to other flowers found in Valdez like daisies.
Pineapple Weed growing in downtown Valdez
Safety & Etiquette
Pineapple weed is an introduced plant. The Alaska Plant Materials Center's field guide to Terrestrial Weed Identification states that "the pineapple weed reproduces by seeds only. When wet, the seeds are gelatinous and can be transported by sticking to wheels, shoes, or the feet or fur of animals."
"Pineapple weed has been used in a variety of ways, from insect repellent to soothing the discomforts of menstruation and pregnancy," Alaska Plant Materials Center
Despite being considered a weed, pineapple weed is noted for a wide number of uses. Viereck discusses the uses of pineapple weed to make chamomile tea in Alaska's Wilderness Medicines: "tea made from the whole plant or the flowers with the leaves attached is very bitter indeed. A tea made from the flowers alone, however, tastes fragrantly sweet and quite similar to familiar chamomile tea." The Alutiiq Museum discusses a number of traditional medicinal uses attributed to pineapple weed: "it is used it to relieve menstrual cramps, as sleeping aid, and to treat colds."
Pineapple weed may be seen around Valdez in town during the summer. Look for it along sidewalks, in gravel driveways or in flower beds.