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Saturday, June 11, 2011

DAISY - EYE OF THE DAY - A BENEFICIAL LITTLE FLOWER


COMMON DAISY, BELLIS PERENNIS
This daisy is common on lawns in Britain as well as in fields, woods and at the sides of motorways. It is a low growing plant with white petals that are often tipped pink, hence another of its names, “strawberries and cream.” In Welsh it is called Llygadd y Dydd or Eye of the Day, which is what Chaucer, writing in the 14th century, calls it,
   “Well by reason men call me
     The Daisie, or else Eye of the Day.”
In the Dark Ages, when there were no citrus fruits such as there had been in Britain in Roman times, oranges and lemons for example, daisy roots and leaves in a strong decoction were used to prevent scurvy and conditions which resulted from lack of vitamin C. However the strong decoction made from daisies for this purpose needs to be taken over a long period of time to be effective. It is not necessary today when grapefruit, pommelo and other citrus fruits are in plentiful supply.
  Gerard writing in the 16th century called it Bruisewort as it was used for bruises and sprains, as mallow is more commonly these days. He recommended it for “alle kinds of aches and paines,” for curing fevers and for inflammation of the liver as well as “alle the inward parts.” In 1771 Dr. Hill wrote that an infusion of the leaves was good against “Hectic Fevers” and we know that in the 14th century daisy was used in ointments for gout, wounds and fevers. The leaves have an acrid taste and cows and other animals avoid them as do insects, so the infusion was also used as an insect spray.
  An infusion of the flowers and leaves was given to alleviate rheumatoid arthritis and liver and kidney problems. The distilled water made from the plant was used for inflammation of the liver and kidneys.
  This European daisy is invasive in North America where the indigenous daisy is the Ox-Eye Daisy. In the US the common daisy is regarded by the USFDA as generally regarded as safe and there is a possibility that it might help in the treatment of HIV. When used with Arnica montana or wolf’s bane it can help bruising and trauma, and also, when the 2 are combined it can stop excessive bleeding after a woman has given birth. However, not much research has been carried out on this common little plant.
   The daisy symbolizes gentleness and is a favourite flower of children who love to make daisy chains with them. In the past these chains were hung around young children’s necks to stop faeries taking them and leaving changelings in their places. The chain itself symbolizes the sun, earth and circle of life, so they must be joined when the chain is long enough to be worn around the child’s neck.
   People used to like to have daisies in the garden to keep malevolent faeries away from their homes. Daisies are often used by young people who imagine themselves to be in love, as they pluck the petals from the daisy one by one while saying “He loves me, he loves me not” until the last petal has been plucked, so showing whether or not the object of their affections returns their love or not. There are other superstitions with rhymes in different countries in Europe, but all have a sense of the prophetic power of the daisy.
  The great Romantic poet, William Wordsworth wrote several versions of “To a Daisy” and here is the first stanza of one: -
 
“In youth from rock to rock I went
 From hill to hill, in discontent
 Of pleasure high and turbulent,
 Most pleas'd when most uneasy;
 But now my own delights I make,
 My thirst at every rill can slake,
 And gladly Nature's love partake
 Of thee, sweet Daisy!”
 
 

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