DAISY (A.S. daeges cage, day's eye), the name applied to the plants constituting the genus Bellis, of the natural order Compositae. The genus contains ten species found in Europe and the Mediterranean region. The common daisy, B. perennis, is the only representative of the genus in the British Isles. It is a perennial, abundant everywhere in pastures and on banks in Europe, except in the most northerly regions, and in Asia Minor, and occurs as an introduced plant in North America. The stem of the daisy is short; the leaves, which are numerous and form a rosette, are slightly hairy, obovate-spathulate in shape, with rounded teeth on the margin in the upper part; and the rootstock is creeping, and of a brownish colour. The flowers are to be found from March to November, and occasionally in the winter months. The heads of flowers are solitary, the outer or rayflorets pink or white, the disk-florets bright yellow. The size and luxuriance of the plant are much affected by the nature of the soil in which it grows. The cultivated varieties, which are numerous, bear finely-coloured flowers, and make very effective borders for walks. What is known as the " hen-and-chicken " daisy has the main head surrounded by a brood of sometimes as many as ten or twelve small heads, formed in the axils of the scales of the involucre. The ray-florets curve inwards and " close " the flower-head in dull weather and towards evening.
Chaucer writes " The daisie, or els the eye of the daie, The emprise, and the noure of flouris alle "; and again "To seen this floure agenst the sunne sprede Whan it riseth early by the morrow, That blissful sight softeneth all my sorrow ";
and the flower is often alluded to with admiration by the other poets of nature. To the farmer, however, the daisy is a weed, and a most wasteful one, as it exhausts the soil and is not eaten by any kind of stock.
In French the daisy is termed la marguerite (tLapyapirrft, a pearl), and "herb margaret " is stated to be an old English appellation for it. In Scotland it is popularly called the gowan, and in Yorkshire it is the bairn wort, or flower beloved by children. The Christmas and Michaelmas daisies are species of Aster; the ox-eye daisy is Chrysanthemum Leucanthemum, a common weed in meadows and waste places. B. perennis flore-pleno, the double daisy, consists of dwarf, showy, 3 to 4 in. plants, flowering freely in spring if grown in rich light soil, and frequently divided and transplanted.- The white and pink forms, with the white and red quilled, and the variegated-leaved aucubaefolia, are some of the best.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)