Bellis perennis or Chrysanthemum leucanthemum
Discussing the common daisy is a bit problematic because there are so many plants that folks commonly refer to as daisies. The name daisy seems to be a general moniker for any rayed flower with long, white external petals surrounding a yellow disc.
Bellis perennis, aka the English daisy, lawn daisy, bruisewort or woundwort is perhaps the quintessential daisy and probably the one the ancient/historical European writers are referring to. Because it is quite short and has tough rhizomes, it enjoys hanging out in lawns despite mowings and so is considered a weed in many places. The flowers are about 1 inch in diameter and sometimes show a bit of red at the tips.
Leucanthemum vulgare aka Chrysanthemum leucanthemum is the “American” Daisy (though it was introduced to the Americas from Europe), commonly known as the ox-eye daisy, dog daisy or moon daisy. The flowers are about 2 inches in diameter and appear all summer at the end of a single stalk shooting up to two feet from the basal rosette.
Chrysanthemum maximum the Shasta daisy was created through selective breeding specifically for the gardening industry. It is similar to its ancestor, the ox-eyed daisy but is flowers are larger and the stems are longer. It is also less invasive than the ox-eyed daisy but otherwise grows similarly. It enjoys full sun and spreads by rhizomes.
Cultivation of Daisies
Leucanthemum vulgare is a popular garden plant and can be found in many garden centers the world over. However, it can easily escape cultivation if the conditions are right and is listed as a noxious weed in some areas. These areas may have issued a ban on the sale or import of the flower. If this is the case in your area, chances are you can find it growing wild in meadows and pastures so check your local park or dairy farm in early to late summer.
Chrysanthemum maximum is not as invasive and is more popular with the average gardener because it has bigger flowers and is more readily available at your local nursery.
Bellis perennis can also be invasive though it
All of these daisies are easily grown from rhizomes or from seed and are difficult to remove if even a tiny bit of rhizome is left with you dig it up. They like a sunny spot and especially enjoy being part of a prairie/meadow type garden. Bellis perennis can be used as a ground cover in tough spots.
History and Folklore
The word daisy comes from “day’s eye”. Bellis perennis closes up at night and opens up during the day, like a long-lashed eye.
Bellis perennis symbolizes innocence and childhood.
Culinary Uses for Daisies
The unopened buds of Leucanthemum vulgare flowers can be marinated or pickled and used on salads, similar to capers.
The young leaves of Bellis perennis can be eaten raw or cooked and the petals can be used raw in salads or sprinkled atop a soup or other dish as an attractive garnish.
Daisies for Herbal Medicine
The juice Bellis perennis was once used to treat bandages used to dress wounds to speed healing and prevent infection.
Daisies in Magick
Daisies are most commonly known for their divinatory “he loves me, he loves me not” spell practiced by young girls the English-speaking world over.
Daisies are suitable offerings to any Goddess and they make wonderful wreaths for wearing in the hair on Beltane or Midsummer.
Leucanthemum vulgare can caused contact dermatitis in some people. Also there are some reports that cattle will not eat this plant and folklore says that if they do, their milk will be bitter.