Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Daisy (Bellis perennis)

Daisy (Bellis perennis) is an herbaceous perennial from the Asteraceae or Compositae family. It is also known as lawn daisy, English daisy, common daisy, bone flower, bruisewort and woundwort. A beautiful low growing resilient little plant, it is commonly found in meadows and lawns of Europe but has also become naturalised in some areas of America, Australia and New Zealand. It is often treated as a weed in lawns in the British Isles. The flowers are attractive and encourage insect pollinators.

An image of daisies (Bellis perennis) with its edible flower buds, petals and leaves.
Daisy (Bellis perennis)

Growing methods

Sow dried seed in spring or autumn. Ripe fresh seed is available in June and can be sown immediately. Broadcast the seed in meadows or grassy areas. Alternatively, sow in seed trays. Seeds germinate from 2-14 days. Once the seedlings are large enough, they can be potted on and planted out in their final position in late summer. Plants grow to around 15 cm in height.

Propagate plants by division. This can be carried out during most times of the year although they do best during the spring and summer when they get a chance to establish.

This plant likes most well drained rich moist soils in a sunny or semi-shaded position. A good ground cover plant, it has a lengthy flowering season under the right conditions. It makes a great addition to cottage gardens or grassland areas managed for wild flowers and wildlife. Daisies grow well in lawns and come back up even after regular mowing mainly because of the compact leaves that sit flat and very close to the ground.

There are a lot of cultivars used for ornamental bedding plants available.

Other uses

The flowers, leaves and roots have been used in homeopathy and as a herbal remedy for a variety of ailments. In particular it was very popular as a cure for wounds but also liver disorders, mouth ulcers and catarrh, amongst other things. In addition it can also be made into an insect repellent. Flowers can be used dried as decoration. Children (and adults) make daisy chains with them!

Raw edible parts

The flower buds, petals and leaves are edible raw and can be made into a tea. They are great for salads. The open flowers are very decorative but can be slightly bitter or acrid. Flower buds can be pickled and used instead of capers. The leaves (think lamb's lettuce) have an astringent or sour flavour.

Daisies have been used (cooked) in soups and as a pot herb, the flower buds used as a sandwich filler. The odd flower can sometimes be found at this time of year (January) but mostly just the leaves. The flowers close up at night and open during the daylight.

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