The Daisy

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From the Walsall Advertiser – Saturday 04 July 1903.

THE DAISY. Mr R. L. Praeger writes in the current Knowledge on wild flowers of the most familiar and best-loved kinds, among them the Daisy, of which he says : “The yellow button-like disk is composed of a myriad of small perfect flowers, with yellow five-cleft tubular corolla, and ring of fused stamens surrounding the pistil. Of calyx we find hardly a trace; the close packing of the flowers leaves no room for it, and renders it unnecessary as a protective structure. In the Compositae the calyx is usually reduced to a few hairs, which often play a valuable part in aiding seed-dispersal, as we shall see, by growing as the fruit ripens into a feathery plume or pappus, which acts as a parachute. The marginal or ray flowers of our Daisy have stamens—are female; and there [sic] corolla is white, and greatly expanded in an outward direction—the only direction in which there is room for expansion. These ray flowers, in fact, are largely useful in advertising the other-wise inconspicuous flower-head. Similar devices we have already noted in the wild Guelder-rose; and we may compare with these such flower-heads as those of the little Cornel (Cornus suecica) and the Astrantias, in which the flowers are surrounded by a ring of coloured leaves, which serve the same purpose. Finally, our Daisy head is surrounded by a close-fitting double ring of small leaves, the involucre, which encloses the whole in bud, and plays the part that a calyx usually plays in a single flower. . . . It is perhaps among some of the larger members the Daisy group that the composite inflorescence attains its greatest beauty and perfect ion. Examine such flower-form as the Ox-eye Daisy. First we have the close-lapping scales of the involucre, securely enclosing the whole, and protecting it when in bud. Then the splendid ring of rayflowers, whose object is render the inflorescence more conspicuous. Thus we find these enormously expanded corollas often assuming a tint other than that of the main mass of flowers — white when the disk is yellow, as in the Ox-eye ; in other species blue, or purple, or yellow, accompanying a yellow or greyish disk. These ray-florets have sacrificed their perfection as flowers for the purposes of advertisement, and are usually devoid of stamens, or sometimes devoid of both stamens and pistil. Finally we have the dense mass of disk-florets, all perfect, producing a quantity ofminute fruits. As for the fruit of the Corymbiferae, a large number rely on wind carriage, and the calyx-segments take the form of hairs, which grow into a more or less perfect parachute to aid in transporting the comparatively large fruit to pastures new.”

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Karon McBride

Writer, consultant, founder Astrantium Hosting.