Daisy-like Cultivars and the Names of Wild Relatives -part Four, Late Summer Flowers

Daisy like cultivars

Photograph by D.A.L.
Photograph by D.A.L.
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Notes from a Lancashire Countryman

In this series of hubs I have looked at many species of the daisy family Asteraceae, which many gardeners choose to brighten their gardens, such as the two types in the above photographs. However, I have been concentrating on their wild relatives that adorn the countryside. In this hub we look at the those that may be encountered during the later months.

Many of the species have been used in herbal medicine for centuries thus are part of our cultural history. I will commence with a very common flower that is often dismissed as dandelions-the cat's ear. The flowers are indeed like those of the dandelion being yellow and composed of strap-shaped florets.

Top. Cat's ear flowers. Below .The foliage of Cat's ear

The dandelion like flowers of the cat's ear. Photograph by D.A.L.
The dandelion like flowers of the cat's ear. Photograph by D.A.L.
The distinctive rosette of leaves are lobed and hairy. Photograph by D.A.L.
The distinctive rosette of leaves are lobed and hairy. Photograph by D.A.L.

The flower heads are 2-3cm [one to one and a half inches} wide. However, there the similarity stops. The stems although leafless do have tiny dark coloured bracts that are very similar in shape to a cat's ear, hence the common name. The leaves is also very distinctive and after that of the dandelion one of the easiest to identify. These basal leaves form a rosette on the ground. Each leaf is "oblong" in shape and lobed along the margins , they are covered in fine hairs. {those of the dandelion have no hairs}.

Others in this group with dandelion like blooms include the hawkweeds, hawkbits and hawkbeards. These are more difficult to identify. The smooth hawk'sbeard Crepis capillaris has many branched flowering stems with small flower heads that are made up of yellow ray florets tinged orangey-red beneath. Below the florets there are two sets of green bracts one longer than the other. The flower heads are 1-1.5cm wide{three quarters of an inch}and may be encountered in July until September.{locally}.

Many of these species have similar flower heads and are therefore better identified by their foliage. However, those species that dwell in grassy places tend to have their foliage concealed by the longer grasses. Thus we have to follow the stem down to ground level and try to move the grass to one side to determine which species it is. The foliage of the smooth hawk's-beard which form the loose rosette are long and narrow tapering to a point. They are lobed with terminal points. The foliage on the stem are small and clasping, arranged alternately. The plant attains the height of 30-80cm { one to two and a half feet.}

Images of foliage note the differences

Foliage of the smooth hawks-beard on the right and autumn hawkbit on the left.Photograph by D.A.L.
Foliage of the smooth hawks-beard on the right and autumn hawkbit on the left.Photograph by D.A.L.

The autumn Hawk-bit, Leontodon autumnalis which flowers from July until October with flower heads of yellow florets which have red stripes beneath. Under the flower heads are tiny bracts. The basal foliage are long and linear with long thin lobes. The foliage is hairless. They are similar to the Mouse ear hawk-weed Pilosella officinarium in bloom but the foliage is simple {not toothed or lobed}. This species sends out runners like the strawberry which root at intervals allowing colonies to form. They were once used to treat diarrhoea . Externally they were utilised for making a gargle for mouth and throat infections.

The common hawk-weed.Hieracium vulgatum,.-The hawkweeds are a complex group of plants which are divided into various sub species and even micro-species. The common hawkweed has basal leaves that are that are oval to lance-shaped with a short stalk. They are toothed but never lobed. The leafless flower stems that hold clusters of bright yellow flower heads at their summit. These measure 2-3 cm wide. The green bracts beneath them are hairy. They attain the height of 30-80cm. They prefer dry rocky places that has grass about them.

Now we turn to the late summer flowers that have daisy like flowers rather than those of the dandelion form. The first plant we meet will be familiar with may gardeners the Yarrow Achemilla millefolium


Top. Culivated yarrow species. Bottom .Wild yarrow

cultivated yarrow has purplish tones in the flower heads.Photograph by D.A.L.
cultivated yarrow has purplish tones in the flower heads.Photograph by D.A.L.
Wild yarrow has white flowers. Photograph by D.A.L.
Wild yarrow has white flowers. Photograph by D.A.L.

Many of the cultivated varieties have purple flowers of different shades. While those of the wild variety have white flowers with various tinges. The flowers of the wild yarrow are 4-8mm broad forming dense umbel -like clusters. The ray florets of these small flower heads are white or with a pinkish hue while the central tubular florets are of a yellowish white colour.

Yarrow attains the height of up to 60cm { 2 feet} in the wild, under normal growing conditions. Again it is the foliage of this species that is readily identifiable. The leaves are stiff and feather like composed of a plethora of small leaflets which may produce leaflets of their own. The species name of millefolium translates as a thousand leaves, and refers to the many leaflets.

The flowering season is from July till October where they dwell in grassy sites, meadows , pastures, roadside verges, and they are often encountered in old church yards. Yarrow is one of the oldest known wound herbs. The Anglo-Saxon's employed it to clean wounds caused by the broad bladed swords which were common in that period. These wounds were often compounded by grease which was wiped on the blades to stop them rusting. Yarrow with its binding and anti septic qualities helped to heal such wounds. 

The leaves are very binding and are used to treat diarrhoea. Because of this binding affect the fresh leaves were applied to wounds and then covered by a dressing. The dried flowers were infused to treat the symptoms of colds and flu. The leaves have a peppery flavour and can be added to salads. They can be added to meat dishes as they cook. An infusion of the leaves can be applied externally as a lotion to treat and clean wounds. The infusion of the leaves makes a tea said to be soothing and a tonic.

From a distance especially in grass land our next subject can be mistaken for yarrow especially where they grow together. The sneezewort, Achemilla ptarmica. However, closer observation will reveal many differences.

Sneezewort flowers

The larger more daisy like flowers of the sneezewort.photograph by D.A.L.
The larger more daisy like flowers of the sneezewort.photograph by D.A.L.

The scentless leaves are small and narrow, simple {not lobed or divided} but they are finely toothed. They are arranged on the stem alternately. The roots of this plant were once crushed into a powder and taken in the manner of snuff. This caused violent sneezing which cleared the head. Hence its common name. In his herbal published in the 1500s John Gerard claimed that even smelling the flowers was enough to make a man sneeze.

Other plants in this family that may be encountered late in the year are fleabane ,goldenrod, tansy and nipplewort. The latter is so called because the closed flower buds were said to resemble the shape of a nipple. In early Medieval times the belief in the "doctrine of Signatures" was strong.This meant that divine intervention had given the plants a sign, either in form or by colour, of the disease they were meant to cure. Thus the nipplewort was used to treat ulcerated nipples by herbalist of that period.

This common plant of shady places has small yellow flower heads composed of yellow ray florets which are arranged loosely in branched clusters at the top of thin wiry stems. The flower heads being 1-2cm wide. They may be encountered along pathways, woodland edges and on waste ground in shady aspects. The foliage of the lower leaves are broad with lobes. The toothed upper leaves are lance-shaped.

Nipplewort in flower. Below Tansy

Nipplewort, .Photograph by D.A.L.
Nipplewort, .Photograph by D.A.L.
COMPONENTS OF TANSY.
COMPONENTS OF TANSY.

Over the series I have tried to show the diversity of this large family of flowering plants by sharing with the reader a broad range of flora. Because of the size of this family there have been omissions which have been inevitable.  Others, to do them justice, merit hubs of their own. These and many others wild flora will be dealt with in much more detail in future hubs.

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Comments 17 comments

D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 18 months ago from Lancashire north west England Author

oliversmum,

Thank you for your kind words. You are so right saying they are beautiful plants and for pointing out they have the added bonus of attracting bees,butterflies and birds to the garden. Best wishes to you.


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 18 months ago from australia

D.A.L. Hi. Wow amazing photographs and an abundance of information. We have 5 Daisy plants in our garden white, lemon and 3 shades of pink, all the same species as your top photograph, love them all, so do the birds and bees :). Thanks again for a wonderful hub. Thumbs up and very interesting . :) :)


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 5 years ago from Lancashire north west England Author

Fossillady thank you for your visit and appreciated comments, nice to see you here. Best wishes to you.


Fossillady profile image

Fossillady 5 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

Hello Dave, This was a really enjoyable hub, I love learning about flowers and wild flowers. I have a daisy patch mixed with shasta daisies and wild daisies, it makes quite a display! Yarrow is another favorite of mine, the smell is so lovely! Nice camera work too! Cheers


D.A.L. profile image

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

B. my camera is only an ordinary digital the subjects just seem to choose themselves. But thank you so much for your kind comments.L. Best wishes


Joy56 profile image

Joy56 6 years ago

cannot believe i missed this one....... You must have a really good camera, as your photos are improving by the minute, they are so awesome..... and yes of course i am inspired......


D.A.L. profile image

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

Hi equealla thank you so much for your encouraging comments. I feel humble that you would like to print off some of my articles. As far photography there are far better people to advise you than I could my dear friend. I will give you a couple of hub pages to visit. " UNDERSTANDING PERSPECTIVES IN PHOTOGRAPHY-AN ILLUSTRATED VIEW" BY Katyzzzz . And "MAKING FLOWERS TALK;A PHOTOGRAPHY ADVENTURE" by jill of alltrades. Thank you for your visit.


equealla profile image

equealla 6 years ago from Pretoria, South Africa

Your pictures are absolutely amazing. May I request you to write us a hub on photography, and what camaras you suggest. I need to look for a new camara soon, and would like advice from someone, who seem to be able to do it right.

I think I am going to start printing your articles, laminate the pages, and protect them in a file, for reference.


D.A.L. profile image

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

SupportMed, forgive me I nearly forgot to answer your appreciated comments. Hope the shasta daisy does well for you. There are cultivated varieties of sneezewort with larger double flowers. Achemilla ptarmica s.s.p. Thank you again for your visit and kind comments.


D.A.L. profile image

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

BevsPaper, thank you so much for your visit, yes yarrow does spread very easily and needs to be kept under control in some cases. Thank you for your appreciated comments.

drbj, thank you for visiting and for your kind comments.

Darlene as always you are welcome here .Thank you for your appreciated comments. We are lucky with our climate that enables many plants to thrive.

2uesday Your welcome. The more you know about the wild plants on your allotment {weeds when they grow there} the better you can deal with them. Thanks for your visit .Best wishes.

Kaie, thank you for the compliment.Hope you manage to keep all your plants alive.

Jill, nice to hear from you, thank you for the visit and for your appreciated comments.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 6 years ago from Philippines

I love daisies and their allies! No matter which way you take their picture, they always look nice and fresh. Is that why there is a term "fresh as a daisy"?

I always learn from your hubs. Sometimes I forget the names of flowers. Your hubs are always good resource for their identification.

Thank you very much for sharing D.A.L.


Kaie Arwen profile image

Kaie Arwen 6 years ago

You've become my own personal landscaper............. many of the things you've shown us lately have ended up in the yard........... all I need to do is keep them alive :-D Kaie


2uesday profile image

2uesday 6 years ago from - on the web, I am 2uesday.

The information and pictures here are very nicely put together, it was a pleasure to read. Now I know that the plant with the white flowers, that grow along the path to my allotment is wild yarrow. Reading your HubPages like this one is like a stroll in the country, thank you.


Support Med. profile image

Support Med. 6 years ago from Michigan

I have planted some that look like the first photo, the pack said 'Shasta' Daisy. They have not yet bloomed and they were planted in May. I hope I get to see them before winter. I think they are beautiful and they actually make me feel happy. I'll have to keep sneezewort in mind, they are pretty. Nicely done. Voted-up/rated.


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 ...

Thanks DLH for another great hub and I enjoyed the pictures, I seems to me that your area of the world has more variety of flowers and plants with we have here? Thank you for this is an awesome hub


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

Sneezewort - what a funny name for a beautiful flower. Lovely photos as always, D.A.L.


BevsPaper profile image

BevsPaper 6 years ago from Central Indiana

What lovely Daisy like cultivars you have showcased. I have Yarrow growing in some of my beds and I love the way it spreads easily.

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