Gerbera daisies are named after Traug Gerber, a German naturalist who discovered the species in the 1700s. Gerbera daisies are native in Asia and Africa, though their vibrant colors and contrasting centers makes them popular garden and cutting plants in the United States. More than 300 colors are available, in every shade of color except blue and with a variety of petal shapes and flower sizes.
Gerbera ambigua is a native southern African flower that blossoms throughout the year in a variety of habitats, including rocky soil, roadsides, savannas and marshland. Flowers are white or bright yellow with white, yellow, red, brown or black centers. The shape of the leaves varies greatly among members of the ambigua species, but leaves are coated with fine hairs.
The wrightii gerbera variety grows in rocky and grassy areas on the sides of hills and mountains. Native to South Africa, wrightii tends to have white petals, sometimes with copper-colored undersides and, rarely, entirely copper-red. The leaves of the wrightii flower are covered in hairs that give the plant the appearance of being coated in cobwebs.
Also known as the Transvaal daisy, the Barberton daisy typically comes in red, orange and yellow varieties, although white and pastel cultivars have been developed as well, with golden centers. The flowers are fairly large, about three inches in diameter, and grow on stems a foot or more in length. If conditions are favorable or the plant is wintered indoors, the Barberton daisy is a perennial plant.
The viridifolia species of the gerbera daisy is found throughout southern and central Africa. Flower colors include pink, purple, red and occasionally yellow. In the wild, the viridifolia species prefers highland regions that receive moderate to heavy rainfall, and especially thrives following a grass fire, although the species will tolerate a wide range of growing conditions within its range.
The crocea species blossoms in a range of colors, from pink and white to dark reds and purples, including mixtures of colors. Crocea prefers dry growing conditions, and thrives in sandy and rocky soil, recently burned grassland and on the sides of hills. The crocea daisy produces snow-white tufts when it goes to seed.
Gerbera linnaei typically grows as a white flower, preferring sandy or rocky ground and especially hillsides. Like many other gerbera species, linnaei often thrives following a fire. Linnaei daisies are distinct because of their fern-like leaves, which may have resulted from crossbreeding with other plant species. For this reason, some linnaei daisies are sterile. When plants go to seed, the downy tuft they produce is tinged with brown, again distinguishing linnaei from other gerbera species.