The daisy looks like a simple flower, but it is actually a composite of several different parts joining to form the flower. Although many insects visit the flower each day, the daisy is not bothered by any of them. Generally, a daisy is white with a yellow centre, although sometimes it can be pink or a rose colour. Throughout history, the daisy has been featured in myth, literary works and legend. The name originates from the Anglo Saxon word meaning "day's eye." The name is appropriate since the flower opens in the morning.
The middle of the flower is known as the central disk, which houses the disk florets. The petals are called the ray florets or rays. The stems have no leaves and support only one flower, but the plant itself has flower stalks of 3 to 4 inches. Depending on the variety, the leaves of the daisy can be smooth or hairy.
Some descriptive names for the daisy are moon flower, Saint John's flower, moon pennies, Mary's Star, Mary's flower of God and priest's collar.
The Shasta and the African daisies are the most popular; however, there are several other types. Some interesting varieties are the Spanish daisy, blue daisy, and lazy daisy, also known as the prairie daisy.
In the language of herbs, a daisy represents innocence, simplicity, cheerfulness, sympathy and a newborn baby. In the spring, if a dreamer dreams of daisies, this symbolises months of good luck. If a person sends daisies, it means "loyal love."
Daisies in Literature
Daisies are third in literary popularity with famous authors. Following the rose and the lily, the daisy appears in the works of Euripides, Chaucer, Shakespeare, Robert Burns, Ben Johnson, Shelley, William Wordsworth, Charles Dickens, John Keats and many more. A famous quote by Keats on his deathbed was the origin of the expression "pushing up daisies." Goethe immortalised the daisy when Marguerite needed to know if Faust loved her as she plucked the daisy petals and said, "He loves me. He loves me not."
Daisies in Mythology
The daisy received its scientific name, Bellis, from mythology. The guardian deity of the orchards pursued a young tree nymph without reciprocation. The nymph asked the gods for help in her flight from her undesirable pursuer. The powerful king of Argos was grandfather to the nymph, so when she appealed to the gods for help, they transformed her into a tiny flower named Bellis, and she escaped a terrible fate.
Daisies in Legend
A Christian legend tells that the Wise Men on their trek to find the Baby Jesus requested a sign to help them. They suddenly noticed many clusters of small, white, ox-eye daisies near a stable. Recognising the flower's resemblance to the star overhead, they knew they had found the Holy Family.