Another day, another walk, another plant: Bellis perennis

See that pretty white flower that looks like a little daisy? They are low to the ground and blooming all over Florence right now. I checked my app, PlantNet, to learn more.

Of course, I had to consult Wikipedia for more info, and I am glad I did!

Bellis perennis is a common European species of daisy, of the family Asteraceae, often considered the archetypal species of that name.

“Many related plants also share the name “daisy”, so to distinguish this species from other daisies it is sometimes qualified as common daisy, lawn daisy or English daisy. Historically, it has also been commonly known as bruisewort and occasionally woundwort (although the common name woundwort is now more closely associated with Stachys). Bellis perennis is native to western, central and northern Europe, including remote islands such as the Faroe Islands but widely naturalised in most temperate regions including the Americas and Australasia.

“It is a perennial herbaceous plant with short creeping rhizomes and rosettes of small rounded or spoon-shaped leaves that are from 3/4 to 2 inches long and grow flat to the ground. The species habitually colonises lawns, and is difficult to eradicate by mowing – hence the term ‘lawn daisy’. It exhibits the phenomenon of heliotropism where the flowers follow the position of the sun in the sky.

“The flowerheads are composite, in the form of a pseudanthium, consisting of many sessile flowers about 3/4 to 1-1/4 in in diameter, with white ray florets (often tipped red) and yellow disc florets. Each inflorescence is borne on single leafless stems 3/4 – 4 in, rarely 6 in tall. The capitulum, or disc of florets, is surrounded by two rows of green bracts known as “phyllaries”. The achenes are without pappus.

“Etymology: Bellis may come from bellus, Latin for “pretty”, and perennis is Latin for “everlasting”.

“The name “daisy” is considered a corruption of “day’s eye”, because the whole head closes at night and opens in the morning. Chaucer called it “eye of the day”. In Medieval times, Bellis perennis or the English Daisy was commonly known as “Mary’s Rose”. It is also known as bone flower.

“The English daisy is also considered to be a flower of children and innocence.

Daisies by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1894)

“Daisy is used as a girl’s name and as a nickname for girls named Margaret, after the French name for the oxeye daisy, marguerite.

“Culinary: This daisy may be used as a potherb. Young leaves can be eaten raw in salads or cooked, noting that the leaves become increasingly astringent with age. Flower buds and petals can be eaten raw in sandwiches, soups and salads. It is also used as a tea and as a vitamin supplement.

“Herbal medicine: Bellis perennis has astringent properties and has been used in herbal medicine. In ancient Rome, the surgeons who accompanied Roman legions into battle would order their slaves to pick sacks full of daisies in order to extract their juice; bellum, Latin for “war”, may be the origin of this plant’s scientific name. Bandages were soaked in this juice and would then be used to bind sword and spear cuts.

Bellis perennis is still used in homeopathy for wounds and after certain surgical procedures, as well as for blunt trauma in animals. Typically, the plant is harvested while in flower when intended for use in homeopathy.

Bellis perennis flowers have been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally as tea (or the leaves as a salad) for treatment of disorders of the gastrointestinal and respiratory tract.


“Daisies have traditionally been used for making daisy chains in children’s games.

The daisy chain by Maude Goodman (1936)

Thank you Florence, PlantNet, and Wikipedia. You are keeping the long, boring days of Covid in check (more or less).

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