Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Daisy Rascals Are a Welcome Sight ; You Will Find Clouds of Daisies in All Manner of Places, from Forests and Hillsides Down to the Coast So There's One to Suit Every Garden

Newspaper article Manchester Evening News

Daisy Rascals Are a Welcome Sight ; You Will Find Clouds of Daisies in All Manner of Places, from Forests and Hillsides Down to the Coast So There's One to Suit Every Garden

Article excerpt

THERE is a bit of a competition over which plant family is the largest. But when it comes to flowering plants, the daisy family asteraceae wins hands down, with a staggering quarter of a million species.

One in every 10 plants on the planet belongs to this family and you'll find daisies in every imaginable habitat, from tropical forest to alpine mountainside.

From bog to prairie, hedgerow to seaside, daisies are in evidence. They owe their diversity to their ability to adapt, evolving over millions of years.

The old name for the family was compositae and that gives us a clue to a common feature. Instead of having single flowers, each 'flowerhead' is composed of many flowers. Look at a dandelion clock - each head contains hundreds of seeds, each with its individual parachute and each was originally one flower.

In members of asteraceae, which look like the archetypal daisy flower little children draw, there are two sorts of florets. Ray florets comprise the outer ring of often brightly coloured 'petals', while disc florets form the centre of the flower head.

To confuse matters, some have only disc florets - the burdock, or 'sticky bobs' as we used to call them, have only disc florets whereas the dandelion and its ilk have only ray florets.

For those who prefer cultivated daisies (although the great majority we use are wild flowers from some other part of the world) there are plenty to choose. Those we are most interested in are daisies from temperate regions akin to our own.

There are a few exceptions, such as the little Mexican daisy, Erigeron karvinskianus, which has established itself in the South West and, increasingly, further north. It is a charming plant whose white daisies become deep pink as they age.

Another 'Mexican' daisy, the dahlia, has lived here for at least 200 years. There are zinnias, calendulas, catananche, echinops, inula, eupatorium, tagetes, gaillardia, osteospermum - the list is endless.

Many of our best daisies originate in the USA and Canada. …

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