Daisy-like Cultivars and Their Wild Relatives.

Notes from a Lancashire Countryman

All members of this group of plants belong to the family Asteraceae, formerly known as Compositae, and it is one of the largest families of flowering plants, which include Aster, Echinaceae, Chrysanthemum, Goldenrod, Michaelmas daisy, Erigon, Agrimony, Marigold, Yarrow, Corn flower-the list is almost endless.

Daisy like Flowers of the Garden.

Photograph by D.A.L.
Photograph by D.A.L.
Photograph by D.A.L.
Photograph by D.A.L.
Photograph by D.A.L.
Photograph by D.A.L.

Here on hub pages there are far more knowledgeable people, to describe garden flowers and how to care for these beautiful plants, so I will leave that to my peers. In this hub I will endeavour to introduce the reader to their wild relatives that reside in the countryside. Some of these are very common, indeed, many are found in the garden and its environs, in which case the puritans will call them weeds. These are the common daisy,dandelion, colt'sfoot, and groundsel, thus I will dispense of these in favour of the relatives that may not be so familiar with the reader. I will however, refer the reader to some of my other hubs that discuss these species in greater detail.

Because this is a vast family of plants the species will inevitably have to spread other several hubs to do the family justice. Here we can but make a start and choose some subjects that are representative of the family. Let us start our discovery with the Chicory Cichorium intybus, a beautiful perennial of pastures, roadside verges and waste places. Wherever, these plants reside, the habitat is enhanced from July to October by their beautiful flowers. The flower heads , for indeed that is what they are, are composed of exquisite pale blue florets. The flower heads as a whole measures 3.5cm across.

The plant attains the height of 1-2M tall making it unmistakeable. The stem is branched and contains milky sap. The basal leaves are lance shaped {lanceolate} in form, and the majority are deeply divided into lobes, they are hairy beneath, the stem leaves are smaller, spear-shaped and toothed.

In archaic times when one had a family member suffering from a loss of appetite, one would seek out this plant. 1tablespoon of the dried plant was prepared as a decoction, 2-3 cups were drunk daily. In modern homeopathy it is used as an appetite stimulant and for treating stomach pains. Another plant with similar blue florets {but invariably darker} is the corn flower Centaurea cyanus,. Sadly both of these species are becoming much rarer in the wild. When I happen upon them during the course of my rambles I tend to savour them. Garden cultivars are readily available, but to see them swaying gently in their right and proper grassland home, is in my opinion much more pleasurable and fulfilling.


Chicory is a tall unmistakeable plant.
Chicory is a tall unmistakeable plant.
This beautiful photograph of the corn flower is courtesy of Teun Spaans.
This beautiful photograph of the corn flower is courtesy of Teun Spaans.

We meet with our next subject in the tall grassland of meadows and embankments. The Goat's beard Tragopogon pratensis. What a unique species this is. To start with the foliage is grass like blending in superbly with surrounding tall grasses that share its dwelling place, they taper to a fine tip. The flower heads are dandelion like and have long yellow ray florets Another form produces only very short ray florets which occur in the centre of a ring of lance like bracts that protrude above them giving the impression of a King's crown. Which ever type the flowers close quite tightly at mid day giving rise to the country title of jack-go-to-bed-at-noon.

This phenomena has proved amusing to adults and magical to children that accompany me, on the wild flower walks I lead  on behalf of the West Lancashire Countryside Ranger service.Around 10 am when the walk commences we pass through meadows and I make a pacific point of asking participants to take note of these tall plants, in particular, their dandelion like blooms which are numerous in this locality. On our return usually around 2pm all the flowers are closed and as if by magic they are quite gone!. The foliage is difficult to define in the grasses. 

In common with the dandelion they produce fluffy spheres of plumes that will eventually carry the seeds parachute like to their new homes. The heads of this species, however, are much larger often the size of a tennis ball. the deep tap roots were once dug up and roasted in the oven. They were then ground to a powder which was made into a coffee substitute. It is actually quite tasty without the affects of caffeine. 

Other yellow flowered relatives include the notorious ragwort, much disliked by horse owners who have seen animals in their charge suffer a slow build up of toxic substances through grazing on this plant.  nipplewort so called because the unopened flower buds are supposed to look like nipples, is a plant of shady aspects such as woodland margins and shady pathways. These have small daisy like blooms.

Goats beard and Nipplewort

I took this photograph of this single specimen to illustrate the grass like foliage of the Goat's beard.
I took this photograph of this single specimen to illustrate the grass like foliage of the Goat's beard.
The small yellow blooms of the nipple wort. Photograph by D.A.L.
The small yellow blooms of the nipple wort. Photograph by D.A.L.

The plant I have chosen to complete this particular hub is the the fever few Tanacetum parthenium. This plant is a tall growing perennial that self seeds easily and therefore can become invasive in a garden situation. They are often allowed to grow in cottage gardens for their medicinal properties.

The feverfew is aromatic with a characteristic smell . It attains the height of 60-90cm{2-3feet.} The foliage is of a light green colour often with a yellowish tinge, they are divided into broad, toothed lobes. Each flower head is daisy like with a yellow centre composed of disk florets surrounded by white ray florets most people would refer to as the petals. The flower heads are produced in copious amounts and last for a long time making them attractive to look upon. Garden varieties with double flowers are popular and are available. They flower from the end of June until September.

They are encountered on waste grounds, walls, in hedges and by roadsides. They are regarded as being mildly sedative and they are known to reduce inflammation. They where also taken for migraine and other types of nervous headaches. As their name suggests they were once regularly employed to relieve the symptoms of fever.

Feverfew produces a plethora of flowers Photograph by D.A.L.
Feverfew produces a plethora of flowers Photograph by D.A.L.
A closer look at the foliage and flowering stem of the feverfew. Photograph by D.A.L.
A closer look at the foliage and flowering stem of the feverfew. Photograph by D.A.L.

In a future hub I will explore the plants of this family which include the thistles and thistle-like flowers of other species.  I have only touched upon the wild relatives of this diverse family but I hope the reader can appreciate the diversity of the species .

Cat's ears are members of this family often dismissed as being dandelions. Photograph by D.A.L.
Cat's ears are members of this family often dismissed as being dandelions. Photograph by D.A.L.

More by this Author


Comments 8 comments

D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

lucieanne, it is a great pity that the powers that be seem to have given over leading nature walks. Thank you for visiting and for leaving your appreciated comments. Best wishes.


lucieanne profile image

lucieanne 6 years ago from Boston United Kingdom

I love wild flowers. When I was young our schoolteacher used to take us on nature walks. She knew all the names of the wild flowers, Rose Bay Willow Herb was always my favourite, but you don't seem to see much of it these days. When you mentioned groundsel DAL I immediately remembered the pungent smell. I also love to see the greater bindweed in bloom with its white trumpet flower heads. I enjoyed reading your hub. It took me right back to my school days. Thanks for sharing. Lovely photos too!


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Darskie you are right wild flowers can be beautiful things. I am always great when I hear from you. Thank you my friend.


Darlene Sabella profile image

Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

I love these pictures and your excellent hub, I can just visualize you showing the children the wild flowers and plants. I have so beauty flowers that everyone is pulling up in their yards and calling them weeds, so I love to see my wild flowers grow, live should be allow to rise the occation don't you think? rate up and enjoyed your hub, your friend always...hope all is great for you!


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

drbj, you are welcome. Wild flora is as interesting as their cultivated counterparts. Many species can be found in cities and towns. But they may go unnoticed in this bustling locality. Thank you for reading and for leaving your appreciated comment.


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

Thanks for the photos of those beautiful flowers, D.A.L. I never really paid that much attention to wild flowers before, but now, thanks to you, I will.


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 6 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Hi, Jill, nature has a way of finding a home for her children. Thank you for reading and for taking the time to comment.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 6 years ago from Philippines

Wow! These are so pretty! I also have some of the wild ones in my garden. I never planted them, they just grew there.

Thank you very much for sharing.

Submitting comments has been temporarily disabled.

Click to Rate This Article
working