Daisy





Our English Daisy is a composite flower which is called in the

glossaries gowan, or Yellow flower. Botanically [144] it is

named Bellis perennis, probably from bellis, in fields of

battle, because of its fame in healing the wounds of soldiers; and

perennis as implying that though the rose has but a summer reign,

the daisy never dies, The flower is likewise known as Bainwort,

beloved by children, and the lesser Consound. The whole plant

has been carefully and exhaustively proved for curative purposes;

and a medicinal tincture (H.) is now made from it with spirit of

wine. Gerard says: Daisies do mitigate all kinds of pain,

especially in the joints, and gout proceeding from a hot humour, if

stamped with new butter and applied upon the pained place. And,

The leaves of Daisies used among pot herbs do make the belly

soluble. Pliny tells us the Daisy was used in his time with

Mugwort as a resolvent to scrofulous tumours.



The leaves are acrid and pungent, being ungrateful to cattle, and

even rejected by geese. These and the flowers, when chewed

experimentally, have provoked giddiness and pains in the arms as

if from coming boils: also a development of boils, dark, fiery, and

very sore, on the back of the neck, and outside the jaws. For

preventing, or aborting these same distressing formations when

they begin to occur spontaneously, the tincture of Daisies should

be taken in doses of five drops three times a day in water.

Likewise this medicine should be given curatively on the principle

of affinity between it and the symptoms induced in provers who

have taken the same in material toxic doses, when the brain is

muddled, the sight dim, the spirits soon depressed, the temper

irritable, the skin pimply, the heart apt to flutter, and the whole

aspect careworn; as if from early excesses. Then the infusion of

the plant in tablespoonful doses, or the diluted tincture, will

answer admirably [145] to renovate and re-establish the health and

strength of the sufferer.



The flowers and leaves are found to afford a considerable quantity

of oil and of ammoniacal salts. The root was named Consolida

minima by older physicians. Fabricius speaks of its efficacy in

curing wounds and contusions. A decoction of the leaves and

flowers was given internally, and the bruised herb blended with

lard was applied outside. The leaves stamped do take away

bruises and swellings, whereupon, it was called in old time

Bruisewort. If eaten as a spring salad, or boiled like spinach, the

leaves are pungent, and slightly laxative.



Being a diminutive plant with roots to correspond, the Daisy, on

the doctrine of signatures, was formerly thought to arrest the

bodily growth if taken with this view. Therefore its roots boiled in

broth were given to young puppies so as to keep them of a small

size. For the same reason the fairy Milkah fed her foster child on

this plant, that his height might not exceed that of a pigmy:--



She robbed dwarf elders of their fragrant fruit,

And fed him early with the daisy-root,

Whence through his veins the powerful juices ran,

And formed the beauteous miniature of man.



Daisy-roots and cream were prescribed by the fairy godmothers

of our childhood to stay the stature of those gawky youngsters

who were shooting up into an ungainly development like ill

weeds growing apace.



Daisies were said of old to be under the dominion of Venus, and

later on they were dedicated to St. Margaret of Cortona. Therefore

they were reputed good for the special-illnesses of females. It is

remarkable there is no [146] Greek word for this plant, or flower.

Ossian the Gaelic poet feigns that the Daisy, whose white

investments figure innocence, was first sown above a baby's

grave by the dimpled hands of infantine angels.



During mediaeval times the Daisy was worn by knights at a

tournament as an emblem of fidelity. In his poem the Flower and

the Leaf, Chaucer, who was ever loud in his praises of the Eye

of Day--empresse and floure of floures all, thus pursues his

theme:--



And at the laste there began anon

A lady for to sing right womanly

A bargaret in praising the Daisie:

For--as methought among her notes sweet,

She said, 'Si doucet est la Margarete.'



The French name Marguerite is derived from a supposed resemblance

of the Daisy to a pearl; and in Germany this flower is known

as the Meadow Pearl. Likewise the Greek word for a pearl is

Margaritos.



A saying goes that it is not Spring until a person can put his foot

on twelve of these flowers. In the cultivated red Daisies used for

bordering our gardens, the yellow central boss of each compound

flower has given place to strap-shaped florets like the outer rays,

and without pollen, so that the entire flower consists of this purple

inflorescence. But such aristocratic culture has made the blossom

unproductive of seed. Like many a proud and belted Earl, each of

the pampered and richly coloured Daisies pays the penalty of its

privileged luxuriance by a disability from perpetuating its species.



The Moon Daisy, or Oxeye Daisy (Leucanthemum Orysanthemum),

St. John's flower, belonging to the same tribe of plants,

grows commonly with an erect stem about two feet high, in

dry pastures and roads, bearing large solitary flowers which are

balsamic and make a [147] useful infusion for relieving chronic

coughs, and for bronchial catarrhs. Boiled with some of the leaves

and stalks they form, if sweetened with honey, or barley sugar, an

excellent posset drink for the same purpose. In America the root is

employed successfully for checking the night sweats of pulmonary

consumption, a fluid extract thereof being made for this object, the

dose of which is from fifteen to sixty drops in water.



The Moon Daisy is named Maudlin-wort from St. Mary Magdalene,

and bears its lunar name from the Grecian goddess of the

moon, Artemis, who particularly governed the female health.

Similarly, our bright little Daisy, the constellated flower that

never sets, owns the name Herb Margaret. The Moon Daisy is

also called Bull Daisy, Gipsies' Daisy, Goldings, Midsummer

Daisy, Mace Flinwort, and Espilawn. Its young leaves are

sometimes used as a flavouring in soups and stews. The flower

was compared to the representation of a full moon, and was

formerly dedicated to the Isis of the Egyptians. Tom Hood wrote

of a traveller estranged far from his native shores, and walking

despondently in a distant land:--



When lo! he starts with glad surprise,

Home thoughts come rushing o'er him,

For, modest, wee, and crimson-tipped

A flower he sees before him.

With eager haste he stoops him down,

His eyes with moisture hazy;

And as he plucks the simple bloom

He murmurs, 'Lawk, a Daisy'!





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