From making daisy chains to asking its petals, “Loves me, love me not?” many of us associate daisies with childhood, playful innocence and love. We delve deeper into the magic of this seemingly ordinary flower.
The daisy is one of the April birth month flowers and is associated with late spring, rebirth and new beginnings.
The name “daisy” comes from the Old English term daeges eage, which means day’s eye. The reason is that, like lotus flowers, daisies open up in the morning to take in sunshine and close up again in the evening. So, daisies remind us that with each day, there is an opportunity to begin again.
The daisy is part of the Asteraceae family. It comes from the Latin word aster, which means star.
Myth and Meaning
According to a Roman myth, the nymph Belides is responsible for the creation of daisies. In the story, Belides transforms herself into a daisy to escape the unwanted affections of Vertumnus, the god of gardens and seasons. This story is where the common English daisy gets its scientific name, Bellis. The myth is also why daisies sometimes represent transformation, rebirth, eternal life and reincarnation. They symbolize the ability to be forgiven for past mistakes and begin again, renewed.
Daisy flower meanings include new beginnings, hope, innocence, fun, fresh starts, sunshine, wiping the slate clean, being innocent and “fresh as a daisy”. In Christianity, daisies are closely associated with the Virgin Mary, as they represent motherhood, innocence, chastity, purity, and humility.
The Celts also associated the daisy with motherhood and newborns. According to legend, whenever an infant died, God sprinkled daisies over the earth to console the parents and give them hope.
To the Vikings the daisy, was also a symbol of love, sensuality and fertility, not just innocence. The Vikings associated daisies with Freya, goddess of love, sex and beauty, and who was the guardian of new mothers.
The daisy is therefore very much associated with love. Have you ever asked, “(S)he loves me, loves me not” as you picked a daisy’s petals? Many of us have made daisy chains by connecting the stems of daisies together. This pastime goes back hundreds of years, to a time when daisy chains were worn as head wreaths or belts in Spring time and for May Day celebrations, when young men and women paired up.
Health and Healing
The daisy also has healing properties. It has fallen out of use in modern herbal medicine but in the past, it was used to ease aches, pains and strains in the way that people now use arnica (arnica is a type of daisy that grows in the Alps). The common daisy was known as ‘Gardeners’ Friend’ because it was applied to relieve the aching joints of people who had been crouched down gardening all day.
In Irish folk medicine, the plant was used to cure tuberculosis, pleurisy, coughs, colds, headaches, stomach and liver complaints, and various skin problems from chilblains to ringworm.
It could be made into a lotion for weak eyes and an ointment for burns, as it was used similarly in other parts of Britain.
Daisies boiled in water, either the whole plant or just the flowers, and especially the small or wild (species), are good for fever, heating up the liver and all internal organs.
Eating and Drinking
Daisies are edible and are a very easy plant to forage for. Pluck the young leaves and flowers and add them to salads. Try decorating cakes with some daisy petals. According to Vivienne Campbell of The Herbal Hub, daisy tea is very refreshing and has a subtle lemony taste. Add 2 tsp of fresh daisies to 1 cup of boiled water. Infuse for 10 mins. Strain off the herbs and drink the liquid. (A word of warning: don’t eat or drink them if you are very allergic to pollen because daisy flowers contain pollen and could trigger this allergy.)
The young flower heads or buds can be added to salads, soups or sandwiches. The flower heads can be used to decorate salad dishes. The leaves can be eaten raw despite their bitter aftertaste, but are better mixed in salads or cooked. The buds can even be preserved in vinegar and used in cooking as a substitute for capers!
So next time you see daisies, stop and admire them, reconnect with your childhood by picking some or making a daisy chain. Remember there is magic and meaning – even in the most ordinary flower!