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OXEYE DAISY
Chrysanthemum leucanthemum

Other Names | Origin & Distribution | Plant Description | Similar Species | Biology | Toxicity | Facts & Folklore

Oxeye daisy seedling at the 5-leaf stage. Oxeye daisy seedling. Oxeye daisy rosettes. Close-up of oxeyedaisy leaf. Oxeye daisy flowers along roadside. Oxeye daisy flower.

Family: Daisy Family (Compositae)

Other Names: Leucanthemum leucanthemum, Leucanthemum vulgare, butter daisy, dun daisy, Dutch curse, field daisy, golden flower, goldens, gowan, grand marguerite, great ox-eye, horse daisy, horse gowan, kellup-weed, marguerite, Maudlin daisy, Maudlinwort, moon daisy, poorland flower, poverty-weed, sheriff-pink, thunderflower, white daisy, white flower, white-weed.

Origin and Distribution: After ox-eye daisy was introduced into North America from its native Europe, it became regarded by some people as an attractive flowering plant while others viewed it as nothing more than a noxious weed. The plant is now naturalized throughout the U.S. and southern Canada. Ox-eye daisy can be found all over Ohio. It typically grows in patches in fields, roadsides, railroads, waste places, open woods, and disturbed areas such as lawns and gardens. It rarely grows in wet soil.

 

Plant Description: Ox-eye daisy is a clump-forming perennial distinguished by lower leaves that are dark green, hairless, somewhat fleshy, and coarsely toothed and conspicuous daisy-like flowers with white rays and yellow centers. Rhizomatous roots are another identifying feature. The plant reproduces by seeds and short rhizomes (horizontal underground stems).

  • Root system - The root system is generally composed of shallow unbranched roots and rhizomes (horizontal underground stems).
  • Seedlings & Shoots - The first two leaves that emerge (cotyledons) are oval. Following these seed leaves are young leaves that are smooth, dull above, pale beneath, and have shiny veins and dark green splotches on tissue between the veins. Young leaves emit a faint tansy odor if crushed.
  • Stems - Stems are slender, stiff, 1 to 3 feet tall, sometimes curving upwards, and usually unbranched but may be forked near the top. Many stems emerge from the rosette of leaves formed at the root crown, or a single stem can emerge at the end of an upturned rhizome.
  • Leaves - Rosette leaves are spoon-shaped, coarsely toothed or lobed around the edge, and attached to the stem by way of a long leaf stalk (petiole). Lower stem leaves are alternate (1 leaf per node), spoon-shaped, coarsely toothed or lobed, 6 inches long, dark green, glossy, fleshy, and attached to long petioles. Leaves located on the middle and upper portions of the stem are narrower than basal leaves, 3 inches long, alternate (1 leaf per node), and toothed or lobed. Petioles are gradually lost so upper leaves generally have clasping bases.
  • Flowers - Flowers are clustered into 1 to 2-inch-wide heads that form singly at the ends of stems and branches. Flowers consist of many yellow disk flowers densely packed into the center surrounded by 20 to 30 white ray flowers, each less that 1/2 inch long.
  • Fruits & Seeds - Ox-eye daisy produces oval seeds that are 1/16 inch long, curved, with one side straight and the other convex, and have a prominent knob-like projection on top. Seeds are black with 8 or 10 white ridges or ribs.
 
Similar Species: Mayweed chamomile (Anthemis cotula) and corn chamomile (A. arvensis) have similar flowers, but the leaves of both species are finely dissected.
 

Biology: Flowering begins in May or June and continues until autumn. Because spread is by way of short rhizomes, dense patches often form. To control mechanically, plants should be mown as soon as flowers appear.
 

Toxicity: None known. However, if eaten by cows, ox-eye daisy produces an unwanted flavor in milk.
 

Facts and Folklore:
  • Ancients in Europe named the flower after Artemis, the goddess of women, because it was common to use the plant to treat diseases of women. Christians called it 'Maudlin daisy' or 'Maudlinwort' after Mary Magdalen.

  • Many of the common names given to this species refer to thunder and the gods of thunderstorms because flowers often appear in summer during thunderstorm season. Also, it was believed that ox-eye daisy could ward off lightning.

  • Ox-eye daisy was used medicinally as an antispasmodic, diuretic, and a treatment for coughs. A lotion made from the plant was applied to wounds, bruises, and ulcers.