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Bellis perennis is a common European species of daisy, of the Asteraceae family, 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 (betony)). Bellis perennis is native to western, central and northern Europe, but widely naturalised in most temperate regions including the Americas and Australasia.
It is an herbaceous perennial plant with short creeping rhizomes and rosettes of small rounded or spoon-shaped leaves that are from 3/4 to 2 inches (approx. 2–5 cm) long and grow flat to the ground. The species habitually colonises lawns, and is difficult to eradicate by mowing - hence the term 'lawn daisy'. Wherever it appears it is often considered an invasive weed.
Although the 'flower' may appear to consist of a yellow centre with white petals, this is not the case. Each individual "petal" is itself an individual flower, called asterales. In the centre there are also many tiny yellow flowers. The different colours and styles of flower work together in order to attract insects. This type of flower is known as a composite flower. They are produced on leafless stems 3/4 - 4 in (approx. 2–10 cm), rarely 6 in (approx. 15 cm) tall.
B. perennis generally blooms from early to midsummer, although when grown under ideal conditions, they have a very long flowering season and will even produce a few flowers in the middle of mild winters.
It can generally be grown in USDA Zones 4 - 8 (i.e. where minimum temperatures are above −30 °F (−34 °C)) in full sun to partial shade conditions, and requires low or no maintenance. It has no known serious insect or disease problems and can generally be grown in most well-drained soils. The plant may be propagated either by seed after the last frost, or by division after flowering.
Though invasive, the species is still considered a valuable ground cover in certain garden settings (e.g., as part of English or cottage inspired gardens, as well as spring meadows where low growth and some color is desired in parallel with minimal care and maintenance while helping to crowd out noxious weeds once established and naturalised).
Numerous single- and double-flowered varieties are in cultivation, producing flat or spherical blooms in a range of sizes (1 cm to 6 cm) and colours (red, pink & white). They are generally grown from seed as biennial bedding plants. They can also be purchased as plugs in Spring. The cultivar 'Tasso series' has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.
Bellis is 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".
The English Daisy is also considered to be a flower of children and innocence.
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.
|This section needs more medical references for verification or relies too heavily on primary sources. (September 2012)|
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, hence the origin of this plant's scientific name in Latin. 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,[unreliable source?] as well as for blunt trauma in animals.[unreliable source?][unreliable source?] Typically, the plant is harvested while in flower when intended for use in homeopathy.
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