The cheerful Ox-Eye Daisy, also called the Marguerite, is a widespread perennial herb originally from Eurasia. In this article, we referred to the Ox-Eye Daisy as a “First Responder” because it is often one of the first species at the scene of a site disturbed by human activity. Its botanical name Leucanthemum vulgare derives has three parts derived from Greek:
- Leucos meaning white;
- Anthos meaning flower;
- and vulgare meaning common.
From June to August, the iconic solitary flower-heads inspire children to make daisy-chains and adolescents to play “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not” games but don’t let that stop you from getting out and enjoying this species as an adult.
“First Responder” or “Invasive” Species?
“Invasive” species are non-native plants and animals that become well established because they do not have any natural predators or controls. They spread quickly and aggressively, out-competing native plants and impacting fragile ecosystems.
Putting the blame on the plant and it’s successful propagation makes it easier to avoid acknowledging the major role that we play in the spread of invasive species. When humans disrupt or damage lands through extraction, logging, new construction, agriculture, we favour the growth of plants that are quick to propagate and good at taking hold in an environment that would be hostile to other species.
The ox-eye daisy is classified, at least in our region (by the CKISS or Central Kootenay Invasive Species Society) as an established “invasive” species with no bio-control or site specific landscape approach. They are also a host for several viral diseases affecting crops. They grow in abundance and can be harvested liberally for human consumption without threatening the longevity of the species.
So, please join us in celebrating nature’s first responder plants by trying a few bush crafts with your family and cook up some delicious open-fire recipes from our article!
Please be sure to follow our Timeless Journey® Foraging Safety Guidelines when collecting wild plants for human consumption.
The ox-eye daisy belongs to the Asteraceae family that contains many common plants like sunflowers, dandelions, thistle, yarrow and stevia. The family has a mix of edible, medicinal and ornamental plants.
The Ox-eye daisy has:
- yellow disk florets and white ray florets
- depression at the centre of the yellow disk floret
- green angular stalks can sometimes have a purple tinge
- tall (up to 90 cm), strong stalks support the heavy flower head
- coarsely toothed leaves have lobes arranged on either side of a central axis
- leaves radiate from the base of the flower stem (basel rosette)
- leaves have a single, central vein
- leaves get smaller and more elongated as you go up the stem
- propagation by seed or by rhizome
The Anthemis cotula or Mayweed plant also belongs to the Aster Family. I imagine that you could confuse them by accident if you only looked at the flower-head. This is not a poisonous look-a-like, just a very smelly, not-to-be-confused-with relative that would really make our recipes taste vile. Notice that there are branching stems with multiple flowers and the leaves are very fine and wispy.
How to Eat An Ox-Eye Daisy (And Enjoy It)
The Ox-Eye daisy has many edible parts, we liked the:
- young leaves used like parsley in raita, tabbouleh and smoothies
Ox-Eye Daisy Leaf Raita
Ox-Eye Daisy Leaf Tabouleh Salad
Fire-Toasted Bruschetta With Ox-Eyed Daisy Leaves
- unopened buds made into capers
- open flower heads, dried as a herbal tea or fried in batter
Battered and Fried Flowers
Remember to pick and use the whole plant, including the roots, whenever possible if you want to effectively contribute to controlling their spread.
The Timeless Journey® Bush Gourmet Chef has been working on three recipes for your enjoyment:
– Carmen Lazzarotto