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Chamomile considered a 'secret weapon' during the Second World War

The camouflage properties of the chamomile plant were secretly investigated at Kew for use in concealing grass airstrips from enemy planes.

Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) flower (Image: KENPEI c/o wikimedia)

During the Second World War, William MacDonald Campbell, a curator at Kew, carried out secret development work with the Air Ministry to investigate the camouflage potential of chamomile.

The Ministry wanted to disguise grass runways, and with Campbell’s help found that this small plant could be used to make worn airstrips recover more rapidly, growing faster and greener, so they would be less discernable to enemy planes.

Author: Christina Harrison, Editor

Blog: Read Christina's blog

Kew magazine

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1 October 2009
Who would have thought that chamomile had a secret use? Amazing.