Nature on our doorsteps: Daisies, hiding a secret

By Rosaleen Dwyer

Rosaleen Dwyer is the County Heritage Officer at South Dublin County Council – every week she gives us an insight into the natural heritage around us and the beautiful biodiversity of the plants and creatures

Of all our native plants, Daisies are probably the flower best known by most people.

They are also one of our first springtime flowers, popping up in the lawn or along the side of the road as early as February.

Both Daisies and Dandelions are composite flowers compressor

Both Daisies and Dandelions are composite flowers

While their arrival might not be welcomed by those gardeners who prefer tightly mown green lawns, others delight in the lovely contrast of the plant’s yellow and white colours against the grass.

This pretty little flower, however, hides a little secret.

Daisies are ‘composite’ flowers, consisting of a collection of many separate little flowers that are held closely together on one flowerhead.

Each little yellow ‘dot’ in the centre of the Daisy is called a disc floret, while each white ‘petal’ is a separate little ray floret.

The advantage of being a composite flower is that many small flowers can crowd together to form one larger colourful structure.

The pink blush on Daisys white ray florets add to its charm compressor

Pink blush on Daisy’s white ray florets adds to its charm

This makes it easier to attract pollinating insects and ensure successful seed production.

As each of the individual florets on the flowerhead offer nectar or pollen, insects also benefit by not having to fly as far to gather food.

Because Daisies flower early in the year, they provide food for insects at a time when few other flowers are in bloom.

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