2015-06-09 / Columns

The Bright Side

Please Don’t Eat The Daisies; Don’t Plant Them Either
by Annie Bright

Daisies remind me of lazy summer days. They seem friendly and welcoming. Others must share my fondness for the lowly daisy, because it is used many times as the graphic representative on everything from clothing to household items. How many welcome signs have you seen with daisies painted on them? Their simple construction and color scheme are not pretentious or showy. There is a simple folksy manner about them. The white petals arranged around a yellow center beg to be taken home by the handful and put in a fruit jar. And who hasn’t plucked off the petals as they recited: “He loves me, he loves me not”? As a child, I made chains of daisies by knotting the stems together. The supply of blooms seemed endless. One necklace was never enough. Wearing a few necklaces of flowers made pretending to be Fairy Queen so easy. Commanding my subjects in a regal manner was easier with jewels around my freckled neck! As a teen I often plucked a daisy or a leaf to use as a bookmark. Reading was much easier if I escaped the hubbub of my siblings to read outdoors.

Daisies bloom all summer. That is another reason to love them (or hate them). The perennial spreads by seeds and rhizomes. One bloom can produce 200 seeds. One plant can produce a dozen blooms. Multiply that to see how they could take over a pasture. They love sunshine, but will grow in semi shade. The ditches along the roads are decorated with daisies now. Some of the hay fields along Jordon Road are covered with blankets of white blooms. The pastures are marked with drifts of the cheerful flowers. Like another of my favorite summertime plants Queen Anne’s Lace, Ox-eye Daisies are not native to the U.S. Chrysanthemum Leucanthemum came to America with immigrants from Europe and Asia in the 1800s. I doubt there is a state that doesn’t have a few daisies adding a homey touch to the roadways.

This simple flower that most of us associate with summer is known by many names. Marguerite, moon flower, white weed, poor land flower, and dog daisy are just a few. In many states it is considered a nuisance weed. The lowly daisy is on the Restricted List of Noxious Weeds in our own state. Several other states also list it on the noxious weed list, because it spreads so easily and chokes out the native grasses. Cows usually won’t eat daisies; though they could, they aren’t poisonous. If they do partake of a daisy feast, their milk acquires an unpleasant taste or so I am told.

The Noxious Weed List may include a plant that might be growing in your gardens. Actually there are several lists: the Prohibited Noxious Weed List and the Restricted Noxious Weed List, and the just Noxious Weed list. There is also an Invasive Plant list. I was surprised to see Star of Bethlehem on the Invasive Plant list. Indiana’s law concerns the sale, gifting or growing of many plants. There are fines involved for landowners. I found reading the information on the btny.purdue.edu/ Weed Science/2005/weedlaw site enlightening and a little frightening. Most of us are familiar with that horrible multiflora rose, the stubborn honeysuckle vine, and garlic mustard that are almost impossible to kill. They are all on a list with Johnson grass. I fight the roses and the honeysuckle all the time, to no avail. Purple loosestrife has a well-known reputation as a bully, as does Creeping Charlie. However, you might be surprised at the number of plants that are on the lists. I know I was. I am sorry to say some of them are growing on the Ridge in spite of my efforts to kill them. Hopefully, I won’t experience a visit from the weed police on the Ridge.

If enforced this law does not bode well for my beloved Ox-Eyed Daisy. What would summer be without a fruit jar full of daisies on the kitchen table? How would the lovelorn determine if he loves me or not? Ox-Eyed Daisies aren’t the only plant with a white and yellow bloom. Mayweed, common fleabane, and showier daisy fleabane, several asters and Shepherd’s Needle all share the yellow center surrounded by white ray flowers. Michaelmas daisies or fever few and chamomile also resemble the lowly daisy. There are Shasta Daisies too, that are bigger and more robust than the lowly field daisy. None of those would make a jeweled necklace for a Fairy Queen.

‘til next time,

Annie

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