Although the name "daisy" is given to many plants, probably the archetype of the daisy is Bellis perennis, also called English daisy and common daisy. It is native to Europe but has naturalized in North America.
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The Anglo-Saxon name for the plant was "daes eage," meaning "day's eye," because of the fact that the flower head closes up at night. Eventually it came to be called simply "daisy."
The Original Daisy
The English daisy was originally a small, low plant with yellow-centered white flowers of less than an inch in diameter. The daisy has now been bred to include double-flowering forms with longer stems and 2-inch blooms in colors running the spectrum from white to pink to red.
The Asteraceae Family
The name daisy is also given to the plants of the Asteraceae family, the second largest family of flowering plants. In common to all of the plants in this group is a composite flower structure, which is made up of both ray flowers (which we think of as petals) and disk flowers (the tight central button).
Some other flowers we think of as daisies are echinacea (coneflower), feverfew, helianthus, rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan), tithonia and the shasta daisy. They come in a wide variety of sizes, colors and blooming times, though all prefer a sunny location.
Daisies as Medicine
In olden times daisies were used as an herbal remedy to cure illnesses such as arthritis and bronchitis. The daisy also has astringent properties.
Daisies are a much-loved flower of children. They can be strung together to make a daisy chain which can be worn as a necklace or a crown. The petals can be removed one at a time to play the classic "she-loves-me; she-loves-me-not" game.
- Texas A&M: English Daisy
- Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County: Top Daisy Performers
daisies, Bellis perennis, Asteraceae
About this Author
Gwen Bruno has been a full-time freelance writer since 2009, with her gardening-related articles appearing on DavesGarden. She is a former teacher and librarian, and she holds a bachelor's degree in education from Augustana College and master's degrees in education and library science from North Park University and the University of Wisconsin.