It is thought that the name, "Daisy" comes from "day's eye" because the flowers open in the early morning. I haven't really noticed this with my daisies. They tend to open and stay that way for several weeks. The flowers are made up of white petals around a yellow centre. The centre is an assortment of hundreds of tiny tubular Florette's. This makes the daisy an effective pollinator. Over the past few weeks I have noticed that goldfinches come to sit on the spent flowers and eat the seeds. Yesterday I heard their familiar chirping and noticed that I had dozens of goldfinches, black capped chickadees and vireos in my garden. They were busy eating the seeds of my lavender and coneflowers too. It was such a happy sight!
This next photo is of a different variety. It is a smaller daisy, growing only about 10-12inches tall. I planted this one several years ago and I have lost the tag that went with it. I think it is one of the newer varieties, since the flowers are much whiter and larger than my Shasta Daisies. Daisies are in the Asteraceae family. There are over 20,000 species! They include daisies, asters, gerberas and dahlias. Lettuce is also a member of this same family as well as artichokes, sunflowers and endive. Their genus has been under dispute. Some botanists now list it as Leucanthemum but it had earlier been listed as chrysanthemum.
Daisies have astringent properties and have been used in folk medicine as a skin cleanser. In ancient Rome, surgeons who accompanied warriors into battle extracted the juice from sackfuls of daisies in order to treat spear and sword wounds. This pale yellow one is my favourite!
Daisies are simple, yet sophisticated. They are one of the most beautiful in the floral world - at least in my opinion. They convey cheer and symbolize purity and innocence. According to Celtic legend, each daisy represents a child who died at birth. As the daisies bloom each year it is a gift from God. These are the flower whose petals are picked off one by one as a hopeful young girl yearns, "he loves me, he loves me not, as in Goethe's Marguerite in "Faust". Old wives tales believed that eating daisies would stunt your growth, hence the saying, "please don't eat the daisies". And who can forget the daisy chains we made as children to wear on our heads, in our hair or around our necks and arms? According to medieval tales, a girl wore a wreath of daisies on her head to tell her suitor that she accepted his proposal of marriage. And let's not forget the morbid saying, "pushing up daisies", which came from the poet John Keats when he announced on his deathbed that he could already feel the daisies growing above his casket.