In homage to D. Dionisio Alonso (Isio-Tábares) and Dña. María de los Ángeles Fernández Martín (Angelines) , the last collectors of Manzanilla de Villafáfila



chamomile field


Synonyms of the scientific name

Chamomilla recutita = Matricaria recutita


         Native to Europe, spread naturally or by cultivation in Hungary, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Romania, Germany, Spain, Italy and Australia; also in Western Asia and North Africa. In America it is cultivated in Argentina, USA and Venezuela.

Chamomile of Villafáfila

Etymology of the scientific name

It comes from the Latin matrix , for matrix, and from the Greek, chamaemelum , which means earth apple, for the aroma it gives off.

Other popular names

German chamomile, chamomile, Aragon chamomile, Hungarian chamomile. German, Kamillen; French, camomille allemande, matricaire; english, german chamomille, hungarian camomille, wild camomille; Italian, camomilla vulgare; Portuguese, Camomila da Alemanha, Feverfew.


Annual, glabrous, highly branched herbaceous plant that reaches a height of 0.60 m.

Sessile, alternate leaves, bipinnate at the top and tripinnate at the bottom, with linear segments.

Flowers grouped in small chapters, long pedunculate, with conical and hollow receptacle, surrounded by an imbricate and flattened involucre,

Flowers without pappus, female peripheral, ligulate, white; Hermaphroditic central flowers, yellow, tubular.

Fruits, small achenes, yellowish green.

Villafáfila chamomile has a strong smell as well as its flavor, impregnated by the characteristics of its soil.



  • Alone or in mixtures with other species in infusions.
  • For the extraction of the essence.
  • In liquor store.
  • In the form of hair dye.
  • To prepare tinctures, extracts, syrups, powders, etc.
  • The extract as part of medicinal preparations in inflammatory conditions, chilblains, conjunctivitis, itching, etc.
  • Tonic, stimulant, antispasmodic, sedative, antiphlogistic, antiallergic, vermifuge and emmenagogue properties.


  • Used in perfumery and liquor.
  • In the cosmetics industry, in powders, ointments and creams that prevent skin irritations caused by the sun; in toothpastes against inflammation of the mouth and gums).
  • For its antiphlogistic action due to azulene; although this substance is obtained mainly in synthetic form.
  • In the medicinal specialty industry for its anti-inflammatory and allergy properties.
  • In Villafáfila its value is medicinal, for inflammatory and digestive conditions.


The dried "flowers" (heads) and the essence.

Aromatic, pleasant and characteristic smell, somewhat bitter taste. It contains essential oil, salicylic and malic acids, tannin, a bitter principle (anthemic acid), choline, apigenin, inosite, resinous and pectic substances, etc.

The essence is a liquid of more or less intense blue color due to the presence of azulene, over time in the presence of light it turns brown. It contains sesquiterpenes, furfural, sesqueterpenic alcohol that represents 50% of the essence with its oxide, bisabolol (45%) and farnesene (18%).

The rest of the plant is known commercially as a branch and its commercial value is low, although it is usually part of the lower qualities.

Head of chamomile, whose color is an intense yellow, oval in shape



Thrives well in relatively humid temperate climate. A good flowering is when rains occur at the end of winter and spring.


It is not demanding in terms of soil quality. It adapts very well to different types of soils, although sandy loams with medium fertility, good drainage and somewhat humid are more suitable for cultivation.

Excessively fertile soils produce abundant vegetation and lower flower yields and, as a consequence, harvest difficulties, uneven ripening and lower yields.

In Villafáfila, the closer it is to the lagoons, the better its quality, due to the type of soil.


Chamomile comes out spontaneously, depending on climatic factors, as well as its quantity. In areas of meadows, and farmland that have not been treated with phytosanitary products.

Petals and head of chamomile is oval in shape like a topknot, not to be confused with the doe, its head is flat


It is carried out when the chapters are completely open, which occurs gradually from the beginning to the end of spring.

The last flowers are smaller and more aromatic, but they can be confused with the "wild chamomile" or "stinking chamomile" ( Anthemis cotula L.), but the latter differs in that the floral receptacle is globose and solid, in addition to having another scent.

The way of harvesting can vary:

It can be by hand, but the amount collected is much less with the trace and with more physical requirement.

With the help of a metal "Trace" comb that is passed over the plant.

This comb consists of teeth, separated enough to hold the flower heads together, and an edge that cuts the peduncles.

Trail to pick chamomile

The material obtained is quite clean, although it also requires subsequent cleaning.

The harvest should be carried out from dusk until the morning of the following day, since the peduncles are more tender and are cut closer to the flower heads.

Residents of Villafáfila picking chamomile with the trail in a field full of chamomile


It is necessary to distinguish one thing very clearly because chamomile and gammaza or gammacilla enter, the uninitiated is confused, but looking at the differences are clear, at first with a loose unaccustomed look it seems very similar in appearance but it is not.




Differences between chamomile and Gamaza:


Petals more elongated, fine and greater quantity

Its head of a less intense yellow color in the shape of a cup.

Gives off a mild scent.


Petals shorter, wider, fewer and more wavy at the tip

Its head of a more intense yellow color, flat and larger.

Gives off a little harsh odor.





It is necessary to distinguish The fresh material collected with combs, whatever its shape or type, must be quickly subjected to cleaning and selection, to remove all kinds of impurities.

Afterwards, it is dried in a natural way exposed to the shade, which is placed on top of old blankets or sheets, paper bags.

If it is placed in the sun, you must have much more control because it dries it more quickly and it can be consumed and charred.

When drying, chamomile loses a large volume, it could be said that more than 50% of the weight cut in the field.


Chamomile drying on a savannah

Dried in the sun in manzanilla sacks

Chamomile drying for home consumption

Almost all the houses collect to have of the year, used medicinally, for inflammatory conditions, and digestive.

Some people have harvested it for later sale, mainly at the fair in San Pedro (Zamora) as it is very famous.




The last collectors for sale have been the couple D. Dionisio Alonso Alonso (Isio-Tábares) from Villafáfila and Ms. Angelines Fernández Martín (Angelines) from Santovenia del Esla (Pintorra).

D. Dionisio Alonso Alonso (Isio-Tábares) de Villafáfila and Ms. María de los Ángeles (Angelines)


As they reflect in the interview they gave to the newspaper  La Opinion de Zamora - Comarcas - Tierra de Campos. Saturday, October 20, 2001. From which to make us a literal transcription of it:

The Druid of the Meadows

• A resident of Villafáfila has been collecting and making chamomile for half a century

In Villafáfila the custom of collecting chamomile from the meadows is still preserved. This is done by a resident of this municipality, Dionisio Alonso, 68 years old who has been dedicated to this task for half a century. He assures that the best flavor and aroma of this plant is in the Campos region.

Dionisio Alonso is a 68-year-old resident of Villafáfila, who for more than half a century has been collecting chamomile from the meadows that cover numerous municipalities in the Tierra de Campos region, and for some time he has been the only one to do so in area.

During all this time, "life has taken many turns in all aspects related to this plant, but what has not changed is the exquisite flavor and aroma of chamomile from these fields," said Dionisio Alonso.

 D. Dionisio Alonso Alonso with the slaughterhouse picking up chamomile


This aromatic herb “grows in the meadows at the beginning of May and lasts until June. This must be taken into account since the flower already begins to dry when July arrives, due to the heat. I remember that in the old days not only the common chamomile that we all know was picked, but also the gamacilla, a type of chamomile with a bitter taste. Just as the poppy, the grana or the gammaza were collected. This one above all, for its medicinal properties; or so they said »explained this resident of Villafáfila.

The characteristics of this grass vary depending on the climatic conditions, since it is a wild plant. However, it can reach up to 60 centimeters in height and its flowers, yellow and white, are presented in chapters of up to two and a half centimeters in diameter. Stems glabrous erect.

«Fifty years ago, when I was still very young, my husband worked for the man and earned about 600,000 pesetas a year; Of course, you have to add the wheat, a cart of straw and little else. With that he gave little to eat. So the women were the ones who went to pick the chamomile. If they took about 50 or 60 kilos, then they earned about two or three thousand pesetas, that is, more than the men”, recalled Dionisio Alonso.

Among the difficulties that they encountered during the harvest in times of the past, this man pointed out «you always had to be very careful with the guards, who were watching, because if they were caught picking the chamomile they might give them a hard fine, and also to work you were left with nothing ».

D. Dionisio Alonso Alonso (Isio-Tábares) from Villafáfila and Dña. María de los Ángeles (Angelines) selling at a stall at the San Pedro fair in Zamora


The way of harvesting chamomile has not changed much, according to Dionisio. «To catch it, an iron rake is still used with which only the heads are cut, which is the best part of the plant; Then, by hand, everything that has been cut into bags is collected and then it has to be put to dry. The important thing is to be able to count on a warehouse large enough to stretch some tarpaulins and pour the chamomile that has been collected on them. That's where it's left to dry."

The elaboration "is very laborious, you have to put it on a board and look at it as if it were lentils in case something that is not useful has slipped in."

Another drawback is that "you are at the expense of time, because there are years that are born and others that are not."

Dionisio Alonso collects this aromatic herb in the meadows «of Villamayor, Tapioles, Cañizo, San Martín de Valderaduey, in Villafáfila... all these towns around here. To collect it, you have to go to the salty areas, which is where it is best raised, in this area is where it has the best flavor and aroma. Where it cannot be harvested in the areas where the cereal is planted because the herbicides kill the characteristics of the chamomile”.

This resident of Villafáfila does not think that chamomile that is sold in sachets is like drinking water "although you go to a bar and there is no other choice." On the other hand and raising a spear for the product of the land, he assures that "if it were not for the foreign chamomile that is imported, it would be worth more than gold for its qualities."

«Fifty years ago, if the guards caught you taking it, they fined you up to a penny, almost what you had worked for».

D. Dionisio Alonso with the chamomile he collects and the liqueur his wife makes


Alonso sells the medicinal plant at fairs of local products

• Mari Ángeles Fernández, wife of the collector, uses the grass to prepare different liquors

For years, Dionisio Alonso has been selling the chamomile that he collects from the meadows of Tierra de Campos at the Zamora fairs for local products. «In principle, he placed a stand next to the garlic sellers in Zamora».

Manzanilla is sold in bags of one hundred grams at three hundred pesetas each. «This year I will have collected about 300 kilos, and there has been a lot of chamomile left in the meadows because there was enough, but the forces do not give me more. In other times, he came to collect up to eight and ten tons. If I were 20 years old now I would patent it, but I am no longer old».

One hundred gram sachets


Mrs. María de los Ángeles, selling Chamomile at the San Pedro fair in Zamora


The chamomile that Alonso collects is not only for sale. In his house, there is someone who uses it for other purposes.

His wife, María de los Ángeles Fernández, usually makes chamomile liqueur. «I mix a liter and a half of water with a handful of chamomile and a kilo of sugar and let it cook for quite a while. When I see that the mixture releases the syrup, I mix it with a liter of brandy and that's it. Well, of course you have to strain it ».

D. Dionisio Alonso Alonso (Isio-Tábares) from Villafáfila and Dña. María de los Ángeles (Angelines) selling at a stall at the San Pedro fair in Zamora


There are many uses in which chamomile is used for its medicinal properties. It is very suitable in all conditions of any organ of the digestive system as it favors difficult digestion and helps to expel gases from the digestive system. It is also suitable in cases of gastric ulcer, gastritis, colic... It has a restorative value for skin conditions; in cases of rheumatism, sciatica, joint pain; also for the eyes, in case of conjunctivitis, allergies, tired eyes... It favors the elimination of liquid in the body and facilitates menstruation.

Interview with D. Dionisio Alonso Alonso (Isio) and Dña. Maria de los Ángeles (Angelines) La Opinion de Zamora - Counties - Tierra de Campos. Saturday, October 20, 2001


In tribute to my dear D. Dionisio Alonso Alonso (Isio-Tábares) † 1933-2021 and Ms.  María de los Ángeles Fernández Martín (Angelines  1937-2021 The last collectors of Manzanilla de Villafáfila.


Jose Luis Dominguez Martinez.

Chamomile of Villafáfila.


D. Dionisio Alonso Alonso and Ms. María de los Ángeles Fernández Martín.

Personal information.


The Opinion of Zamora - Counties - Tierra de Campos.

Saturday, October 20, 2001.

Eve Ponte



D. Dionisio Alonso Alonso and Ms. María de los Ángeles Fernández Martín.

C. de la Cal.

Jose Luis Dominguez Martinez.


Transcription and montage:

Jose Luis Dominguez Martinez.

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