You may have noticed that our entire website wallpaper consists of daisies floating in a sea of greens and blues. This is no accident. Juliette Low, the founder of Girl Scouts of the USA, was often referred to as Daisy by her close friends and family. In fact our youngest level of Girl Scouts are called Daisies in her honor.
Since flowers carried symbolic meanings in olden days and because you don’t hear this name very often now, I thought it would be fun to learn more about this very friendly, simple flower. I was charmed and delighted at what I discovered.
Daisy’s Latin name is belis Perennis. The name comes from the Old English daegeseage, ‘day’s eye’, so called because of the pupil-like center of this round white flower and from the habit of daisies to shut their petals when the sun is gone. There is nothing dark or secretive about the honest daisy – it is a flower of the light. They arrive in myriad shades of color and variations.
A daisy symbolizes innocence and is the flower of children who love to pick them and make daisy chains from them. The daisy chain represents the sun and the totality of the world. It is also a protective charm; the Irish have long believed that a daisy chain protects the child who wears it from being carried away by fairies. Picked daisies, either pinned to the clothing or brought indoors and placed in a vase, acts as a protection against external threats.
The daisy is also a healing plant. The leaves can be eaten fresh or infused as a tea to ease rheumatic aches and pains, general stiffness and backache. If the crushed leaves are applied to a bruise, they can help reduce swelling, which is how the plant earns its common name, “bruisewort.”
The common lawn daisy can grow in double form. An old-fashioned form of daisy known as “hens and chickens,” was popular in medieval times. This flower sends out up to a dozen tiny stalks from each main flower and these stalks also have a flower on the end. The plant has always been considered mystical and is especially associated with children since the flowers appear to bear their own children.
The circle of baby flowers around the main flower symbolizes a halo around the sun. For this reason the leaves of the plants bring special blessings to anyone who eats them. Most favored of all are the children of women who eat these leaves while they are pregnant.
The Greeks tell this story of the daisy’s origin. One morning the wood nymphs decided to dance on the sunny edge of the forest, where the orchards began. The god of the orchards, spying them at their games, drew near to watch. One nymph in particular stung him with her beauty and he fell instantly in love and rushed at her. But she and her sisters vanished, taking refuge in the form of daisies, growing there at the edge of the forest.
The daisy, wrote poet Walter de la Mare, “makes a skylark of every heart.” Botticelli used the daisy in his paintings to symbolize the innocence of the Baby Jesus.
Daisies have definitely brightened my day and I hope yours, as well!