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The Delightful Daisy

Bellis perennis, commonly known as the common daisy or English daisy, is a popular flowering plant belonging to the Asteraceae family. It is native to Europe and western Asia, and has been introduced to other parts of the world as an ornamental plant. In this blog, we will explore the distribution of the common daisy, the insects that use it as a food plant, and its unique floral structure. When I say distribution I don't mean all over your lawn. I am of course referring to it's global or geographical spread.

I once visited a garden where the "lawn" was little more than moss with some fine leaved grasses in patches that was mown to within an inch of it's life. The chap proudly announced that 'Any daisy shows its head in here, and the mower comes straight out.' The image above shows quite clearly what he was missing out on. Not only that, how much must he hate bees?

Distribution of the Common Daisy:

The common daisy is a widespread plant, found across Europe, western Asia, and parts of North America. It is commonly found in grasslands, meadows, lawns, and roadside verges. The plant prefers well-drained soil and full sun exposure.

Green shows natural distribution. Purple shows introduction.

Insects that use the Common Daisy as a Food Plant:

The common daisy is an important food source for many insects, including bees, butterflies, and hoverflies. Bees are the primary pollinators of the plant, and the nectar-rich flowers attract many different species of bees, including bumblebees, honeybees, and solitary bees. The leaves of the plant are also eaten by the larvae of some moth species, such as the grey pug and the small white wave.

Floral Structure of the Common Daisy:

The common daisy has a unique floral structure that sets it apart from other plants in the Asteraceae family. The flower head, which appears as a single flower, is actually made up of many small flowers called florets. Each floret has a yellow disc in the center and white petals around the outside. The yellow disc contains both male and female reproductive structures, while the white petals are sterile.

Similar flowers

Two other native UK wild flowers are oxeye daisy and corn chamomile. Their flowers are both similar in structure to the common daisy, though the plants themselves set them apart from the low growing daisy. We are all familiar with the tight rosette of oval, ground hugging leaves that form the common daisy plant.

The oxeye daisy Leucanthemum vulgare has an oval leaf also but with a more serrated edge. They also grow to 50cm plus which is way beyond the scope of our delightful daisy.

Note the more pronounced dome of florets.
Oxeye daisy.

The corn chamomile Anthemis arvensis, has feathery slender stems. It is also an annual and is usually found in recently disturbed land. The other two are perennial and prefer not to be disturbed.

Note the recurved sepals
Corn chamomile

The common daisy is a beautiful and important plant that supports a diverse range of insect species. Its unique floral structure is fascinating and highlights the complexity of the natural world. Whether you come across it in a meadow or in your own backyard, take a moment to appreciate the beauty and importance of the common daisy. By all means show children how to make a daisy chain, but don't be the idiot who gets the mower out and cuts off all the heads so there's no food for our important insects.

John Grundy established Wilderness Tamed in 2012 after working for the National Trust for six years. Combining horticultural knowledge with conservation and habitat management skills a niche business offering wildlife friendly gardening services. Specialising in ponds, wild flower meadows and lawns as well as broader habitat maintenance. John also travels extensively teaching the art of scything.

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