Monthly Archives: July 2013

Skeleton Weed

Latin Name: Chondrilla juncea

Image by TonyOrigin: Native of Europe, Asia, north-western Africa.

Family: Asteraceae.

Known Hazards: The seeds are said to be poisonous.

Habitat: Dry open habitats

Edibility Rating: 3 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 1 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: Perennial herb to 1.2 m high. Plants with deep taproot and creeping roots that may form new plants. Leaves in rosette lobed, usually hairless, 4–20 cm long, 1.5–5 cm wide; narrow-leaf, broadleaf and intermediate-leaf forms are recognised in Australia, primarily based on shape of basal leaves, leaves die early in the flowering period and plants are then virtually leafless over summer.
Flowers: Flowerheads solitary or 2 or 3 together, 1–2 cm wide, shortly stalked or without a stalk (sessile); consisting of 9–12 small flowers (florets) per head. Flowers summer and autumn. The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

Image by Tony

Image by Tony

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by skeletal appearance; milky latex from all parts; leaves mainly in basal rosette with fewer no reduced leaves on flowering stems; all florets yellow and strap-like; bracts around flowerheads in 2rows, outer bracts minute; seeds brown, ribbed, cylindrical, 8–10 mm long including hair-like beak 5–6mm long, that is surrounded at the base by 5 or 6 spreading scales; apex of hair-like beak with a row of white bristles 6–7 mm long.

Dispersal: Spreads by seed, pieces and new rosettes from lateral roots.

Edible Uses

Leaves – raw or cooked. A pleasant mild taste, the leaves are a favoured wild salad in France.

skeleton

Medicinal Uses

The plant can be used as a stomachic.

Other Uses

None known

Notes: A serious invader of pastures and crop land. Chokes headers. Spread enhanced by continual cropping. Drought resistant and can provide useful grazing. Chondrilla Rust Fungus, Puccinia chondrillae, has successfully controlled the narrow-leaved form of Skeleton Weed. The eradication program for Skeleton Weed in WA has limited its spread.

Scotch Thistle

Latin Name: Onopordum acanthium

Image by Justified Sinner

Image by Justified Sinner

Origin: Native of Europe, western and central Asia and Asia Minor.

Alternative Name(s): Cotton Thistle.

Family: Asteraceae.

Known Hazards: None known.

Habitat: Waste places and arable land, especially on chalky and sandy soils, avoiding shade. Also found on slightly acid soils.

Edibility Rating: 2 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 1 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: Flowers: Flowerheads made up of many small flowers (florets); heads 2–6 cm wide including surrounding spiny bracts, heads solitary or in small groups. Flowers late winter to early summer.The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees. The plant is self-fertile.Erect biennial thistle to 2 m high. Stems winged, woolly or cobwebby. Leaves woolly hairy to scattered hairy; basal leaves toothed, to 40 cm long and to 25 cm wide, withering in mature plants; stem leaves toothed, smaller with base of leaf extending down stems as wings. Seeds 4-ribbed, ovoid, to 0.5 cm long, grey with darker mottling; topped by minutely barbed bristles to 0.9 cm long.

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by erect branched stems; leaves spiny; flower head bracts ending in an orange spine, largest about 2 mm wide where bent away from heads; all florets tubular, mauve to purple (rarely white).

Dispersal: Spread by seed.

Edible Uses

Flowers; Leaves; Stem. Flower buds – cooked. A globe artichoke substitute, though they are much smaller and very fiddly to use. Stems – cooked. Used as a vegetable, they are a cardoon (Cynara cardunculus) substitute. The stems are cooked in water like asparagus or rhubarb. They are best if the rind is removed. Leaves and young plants – cooked. They are harvested before the flowers develop and the prickles must be removed prior to cooking. The petals are an adulterant for saffron, used as a yellow food colouring and flavouring. A good quality edible oil is obtained from the seed. The seed contains about 25% oil.

Medicinal Uses

Astringent; Cancer; Cardiotonic. The flowering plant is cardiotonic. It is used in some proprietary heart medicines. The juice of the plant has been used with good effect in the treatment of cancers and ulcers. A decoction of the root is astringent. It is used to diminish discharges from mucous membranes.

Other Uses

Oil; Stuffing. The stem hairs are sometimes collected and used to stuff pillows. An oil obtained from the seed is used as a fuel for lamps.

Notes: Germinates in autumn; may remain as a rosette over the first summer. Weed of pasture, particularly fertile soils, extending over much of non-arid south eastern Australia. Plants may form dense stands that smother other pasture species and decrease pasture production. Most of the tall Onopordum seen in Australia are hybrids with a full range of genetic intermediates between Scotch Thistle and Illyrian thistle, Onopordum illyricum and with some genes for species not recorded from Australia. Bract width around heads particularly reflects this variation.

Sagittaria

Latin Name: Sagittaria platyphylla

Image by dbarronossOrigin: Native from USA to Panama.

Alternative Name(s): Sagittaria graminea subsp. platyphylla.

Family: Alismataceae.

Known Hazards: None known.

Habitat: Shallow water and muddy or sandy shores. Streams, lakes, and tidal areas from sea level to 700 metres.

Edibility Rating: 1 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 0 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: Perennial aquatic to about 1.2 m high with tubers commonly formed. Submerged leaves translucent, strap-like, to 50 cm long. Emergent leaves lanceolate to linear-lanceolate, blade to 28 cm long and to 10 cm wide on a long stalk. Fruit a cluster (head) 0.5–1.5 cm across, consisting of 1-seeded segments, each segment flattened, winged, 1.5–3 mm long.
Flowers: Inflorescence on a leafless stalk, always below leaf height, with 2–12 whorls of fls. Flowers with 3 white petals and 3 sepals, male flowers c. 3 cm wide and with reflexed sepals. Flowers mainly spring to autumn, depending on latitude.
The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Insects.

Edible Uses

Root – cooked. Contains 4 – 7% protein. Young shoots – cooked.

Sagittaria

Medicinal Uses

None known

Other Uses

None known

Notes: Now widespread and common in N Victoria, SW NSW and around Sydney, Newcastle and SE Qld. Becoming increasingly common in irrigation supply channels, drains, shallow creeks and wetlands. Shade tolerant. Forms dense patches, obstructing water flow and producing luxuriant growth in enriched conditions. Competes vigorously with native waterplants.

 

Saffron Thistle

Latin Name: Carthamus lanatus

Image from Wikispecies

Image from Wikispecies

Origin: Native of southern Europe and Mediterranean to central Asia.

Family: Asteraceae.

Known Hazards: None known.

Habitat: Amongst rocks, in dry hills and uncultivated ground.

Edibility Rating: 1 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 1 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: Erect annual thistle to 1 (rarely to 1.5) m high. Stems ribbed, branched above, hairless to downy. Leaves variable; basal leaves in a rosette, lanceolate, initially with few lobes but older leaves more dissected, to 20 cm long and to 5 cm wide; stem leaves to 11 cm long and to 5 cm wide, usually hairless but some plants with hairy leaves, base stem-clasping and not on a leaf stalk. Seeds ovoid, grey-brown.
Flowers: In solitary heads to 2 cm wide surrounded by spiny bracts (involucral bracts) to 5 cm long. Heads made up of small flowers (florets) to 3 cm long. Flowers late spring to autumn. The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by stems round in cross-section; leaves lanceolate and similar bracts around flowerheads, deeply toothed with lobes ending in spines; all flowers within heads tubular and yellow; seeds 4–6 mm long, about 3 mm wide, hairless, 4-angled, apex with linear scales to 1 cm long.

Dispersal: Spread by seed. Matures with cereal crops and seed is harvested with the grain. Dry seeds tangle in wool.

Edible Uses

An edible oil is obtained from the seed.

safron

Medicinal Uses

Anthelmintic; Diaphoretic; Febrifuge. The plant is anthelmintic, diaphoretic and febrifuge.

Other Uses

An oil is obtained from the seed, though the report gives no more details.

Notes: Hardy weed of cultivation that displaces more useful species in poor pasture. Arguably the most widespread thistle in Australia. Only considered an important weed in Australia. The spines contaminate wool, and make handling contaminated sheep painful. Seldom eaten, but seeds are oil and protein rich.

Ragwort

Latin Name: Senecio jacobaea

Image by Steve C

Image by Steve C

Origin: Native of Europe.

Family: Asteraceae.

Known Hazards: All parts of the plant are poisonous. The plant contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids, in isolation these substances are highly toxic to the liver and have a cumulative affect even when the whole plant is consumed.

Habitat: Waste ground and pastures on all but the poorest soils.

Edibility Rating: 0 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 2 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: Biennial or short-lived perennial herb to 0.8 (rarely to 1.8) m high. Stems often branched towards apex. Basal leaves mostly 5–20 cm long and 4–6 cm wide, in a rosette, withering in flowering plants; stem leaves with upper surface dark green, underneath lighter in colour. Seeds of outer (ray) florets are hairless, those from the inner (disc) florets have fine bristles.
Flowers: Small flowers (florets) in heads mostly about 2.5 cm wide. Flowers mostly spring to autumn. The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies). The plant is self-fertile. It is noted for attracting wildlife.

Ragwort

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by stem leaves deeply divided and irregularly lobed; flowerheads numerous, often in flat-topped clusters at end of stems; bracts around flowerheads 11–14 in one row, 3–6 mm long; yellow disc florets surrounded by 11–15 bright yellow petal-like ray florets 4–12 mm long; seeds 1.5–3 mm long, topped with persistent bristles 4–6 mm long.

Dispersal: Mainly by seed spread by water, on animals, in stock feed or in mud attached to vehicles. Seed may be spread by wind dispersal but mainly over short distances.

Confused With: Other Senecio species, see taxonomic texts for detailed distinguishing features.

Edible Uses

None known.

Medicinal Uses

Astringent; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Emmenagogue; Expectorant; Homeopathy. The plant is astringent, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue and expectorant. The plant is harvested as it comes into flower and is dried for later use. Use with caution, when applied internally it can cause severe damage to the liver. See also the notes above on toxicity. An emollient poultice is made from the leaves. The juice of the plant is cooling and astringent, it is used as a wash in burns, sores, cancerous ulcers and eye inflammations. It makes a good gargle for ulcerated mouths and throats and is also said to take away the pain of a bee sting. Caution is advised here since the plant is poisonous and some people develop a rash from merely touching this plant. A decoction of the root is said to be good for treating internal bruises and wounds. A homeopathic remedy is made from the plant. It is used in the treatment of dysmenorrhoea and other female complaints, internal haemorrhages and other internal disorders.

Other Uses

A good green dye is obtained from the leaves, though it is not very permanent. A yellow dye is obtained from the flowers when alum is used as a mordant. Brown and orange can also be obtained.

Notes: Plants contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids, toxic to stock, that may retain some of their potency long after the pasture has been baled. Ragwort may dominate pasture and reduce carrying capacity. Plants damaged by native insects and a number of insects introduced for biological control.

Radiata Pine

Latin Name: Pinus radiata

Image from WikispeciesOrigin: Native to small areas in coastal California.

Alternative Name(s): Monterey pine, Insignis pine after an earlier botanical name

Family: Pinaceae.

Known Hazards: The wood, sawdust and resins from various species of pine can cause dermatitis in sensitive people.

Habitat: The plant grows in well-drained and nutritionally poor soil.

Edibility Rating: 1 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 2 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: An evergreen Tree growing to 65m by 10m at a fast rate. It is in leaf all year, in flower from August to September, and the seeds ripen from July to August. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind. The plant is self-fertile.

Dispersal: Seeds spread by wind.

Edible Uses

Condiment: A vanillin flavouring is obtained as a by-product of other resins that are released from the pulpwood.

Radiata pine plantation, Lightow, NSW

Radiata pine plantation, Lightow, NSW

Medicinal Uses

The turpentine obtained from the resin of all pine trees is antiseptic, diuretic, rubefacient and vermifuge. It is a valuable remedy used internally in the treatment of kidney and bladder complaints and is used both internally and as a rub and steam bath in the treatment of rheumatic affections. It is also very beneficial to the respiratory system and so is useful in treating diseases of the mucous membranes and respiratory complaints such as coughs, colds, influenza and TB. Externally it is a very beneficial treatment for a variety of skin complaints, wounds, sores, burns, boils etc and is used in the form of liniment plasters, poultices, herbal steam baths and inhalers.

radiata

Other Uses

Dye; Hedge; Herbicide; Shelterbelt; Wood. Very tolerant of maritime exposure and salt-laden winds, it is also very fast growing. Increases in height of between 1 and 2.5 metres per year have been recorded even in exposed positions, it makes an excellent shelterbelt tree. A tan or green dye is obtained from the needles. The needles contain a substance called terpene, this is released when rain washes over the needles and it has a negative effect on the germination of some plants, including wheat. Oleo-resins are present in the tissues of all species of pines, but these are often not present in sufficient quantity to make their extraction economically worthwhile. The resins are obtained by tapping the trunk, or by destructive distillation of the wood. In general, trees from warmer areas of distribution give the higher yields. Turpentine consists of an average of 20% of the oleo-resin and is separated by distillation. Turpentine has a wide range of uses including as a solvent for waxes etc, for making varnish, medicinal etc. Rosin is the substance left after turpentine is removed. This is used by violinists on their bows and also in making sealing wax, varnish etc. Pitch can also be obtained from the resin and is used for waterproofing, as a wood preservative etc. Wood – tough and hard. It is light, soft, brittle, close-grained and not strong according to another report. It is widely grown for lumber in warm temperate zones and has been used for flooring, finishings and fuel.

Notes: Radiata pine is a tall evergreen conifer growing up to 50m tall in high quality plantation areas. The form of the tree in closely-spaced plantations is narrow while open-grown trees become spreading. Radiata pine bears separate male and female flowers on the same tree with the female flowers developing into woody cones with large numbers of winged seeds. Viable seeds may remain in the cones for several years and are often shed abundantly after fire which kills the parent tree.In the rush to reduce dependence on imports of softwood timber many thousands of hectares of unalienated native bushland were cleared and planted with Radiata pine. The extent of the plantation was often determined by adjacent land ownership and steepness of terrain. This meant that plantations often have a common border with conservation reserves and other native bushland. By 2003 there were over 716,500 ha of Radiata pine in Australia.A target of 16,000 ha was set for the ACT and this had almost been reached when major bushfires in 2001 and 2003 destroyed over 11,000 ha. A decision has been made to replant up to 7000 ha with Pinus radiata together with areas of native vegetation. The problem of weediness will reappear when the plantations reach seeding age.Pines have winged seeds which has aided their dispersal into bushland where they compete with native species. In practical terms it may never be possible to eliminate this dispersal while the seed source remains. Genetic modification to produce sterile pines which put more energy into wood production than reproduction appears to be the only solution to invading pines; however this scientific achievement is a long way off.

Pussy Willow

Latin Name: Salix cinerea

Image from Wikispecies

Image from Wikispecies

Origin: Native to Eurasia and North Africa.

Alternative Name(s): Grey Sallow.

Family: Salicaceae.

Known Hazards: None known.

Habitat: Streams and wetlands in temperate areas.

Edibility Rating: 0 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 3 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: Deciduous, rapidly growing shrub or small tree to about 10 m tall. Mostly multistemmed.
Flowers: Plants male or female. Flower spikes are called catkins. Male catkins erect, golden yellow; female catkins green. Catkins appear with leaves in spring. The flowers are pollinated by Bees.

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by erect form, presence of ridges under the bark, elliptic to ovate leaves and catkins.

Dispersal: Seed and pieces.

pussy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confused With: Other species of Salix particularly Goat Willow, Salix caprea. See taxonomic texts for detailed distinguishing features.

Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal Uses

Anodyne; Febrifuge. The fresh bark of all members of this genus contains salicin, which probably decomposes into salicylic acid (closely related to aspirin) in the human body. This is used as an anodyne and febrifuge. The bark of this species is used interchangeably with S. alba. It is taken internally in the treatment of rheumatism, arthritis, gout, inflammatory stages of auto-immune diseases, diarrhoea, dysentery, feverish illnesses, neuralgia and headache. The bark is removed during the summer and dried for later use. The leaves are used internally in the treatment of minor feverish illnesses and colic. The leaves can be harvested throughout the growing season and are used fresh or dried.

Other Uses

Pioneer; Soil stabilization. Plants have an extensive root system and are used to stabilize waste tips and old slag heaps. The seeds are very light and so can travel some distance in the wind. The plant is therefore able to find its way to areas such as cleared woodland where the soil has been disturbed. Seedlings will grow away quickly, even in exposed conditions and the plant will provide good shelter for the establishment of woodland plants. Thus it makes a good pioneer species and, except in wetter and moorland-type soils, will eventually be largely out-competed by the other woodland trees. Its main disadvantage as a pioneer plant is that it has an extensive root system and is quite a greedy plant, thus it will not help as much in enriching the soil for the other woodland plants as other pioneer species such as the alders, Alnus species.

Notes: Variable and hybridises with other Willows. Major weed of streams and wetlands in temperate areas. Extensively planted along roadsides for prevention of soil erosion. Two subspecies are recognised, Grey Sallow (subspecies cinerea) and Rusty Sallow (subspecies oleifolia). Grey Sallow has crisped hairs that are not rusty coloured and that remain on the lower surface of the leaf. Rusty Sallow has a scattering of rust-coloured hairs on the lower surface.

Prickly Pear

Latin Name: Opuntia stricta

Flower

Flower

Origin: Native to the Caribbean region.

Alternative Name(s): Erect Prickly Pear.

Family: Cactaceae.

Known Hazards: The plant has numerous minutely barbed glochids (hairs) that are easily dislodged when the plant is touched and they then become stuck to the skin where they are difficult to see and remove. They can cause considerable discomfort

Habitat: Open dry areas. Rocky bluffs, sand dunes, dry rocky or sandy grasslands.

Edibility Rating: 3 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 1 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: Flowers: yellow, mostly on the margins of the fleshy segments. Flowers late spring to summer.The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.An erect shrub to 1 m (rarely to 2 m) high. Trueleaves are shed early and stem segments are often incorrectly referred to as leaves. Lower segments may be thickened and trunk-forming on older plants while flattened upper segments are up to 40 cm long and up to 25 cm wide. Fruit are egg-shaped with a depressed top, purple when ripe and edible. Seeds pale brown, to 5 mm long.

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by showy yellow flowers about 6 cm wide; presence of small bristles (glochids) in clusters in depressions (areoles) on segments and fruit, these glochids readily attach to skin and are difficult to remove; areoles on segments may also have 1 or no spines to 6 cm long.

Dispersal: Spread by seed or vegetatively by segments that root where they contact the ground.

Edible Uses

Detail of Flower

Detail of Flower

Fruit – raw, cooked or dried for later use. Sweet and gelatinous. Lean and insipid. The unripe fruits can be added to soups etc, imparting an okra-like mucilaginous quality. The fruit can hang on the plant all year round. The fruit is up to 4cm long and 3cm wide. Be careful of the plants irritant hairs, see the notes above on toxicity. Pads – cooked or raw. Watery and very mucilaginous. Seed – briefly roasted then ground into a powder. It is also used as a thickener.

 

Medicinal Uses

Pectoral; Poultice; Warts. A poultice of the peeled pads is applied to wounds, sores etc. The juice of the fruits is used as a treatment for warts. A tea made from the pads is used in the treatment of lung ailments.

Other Uses

Gum. The following notes are for O. ficus indica. They almost certainly also apply to this species. A gum is obtained from the stem. It is used as a masticatory or can be mixed with oil to make candles. The juice of the boiled stem segments is very sticky. It is added to plaster, whitewash etc to make it adhere better to walls.

prickly

Notes: Common Prickly Pear was the major weed problem in large areas of northern NSW and central Queensland in the early 1900s. This cactus is now found over a larger area but is rarely a problem. During the 1920s and 1930s various biological control agents were released for its control. Two of these, Cactoblastis Cactoblastis cactorum and a cochineal, Dactylopius opuntiae, control this cactus in most areas.

Perennial Thistle

Latin Name: Cirsium arvense

Bundanon, NSW Origin: Native of Europe, northern Africa and Asia.

Alternative Name(s): Californian Thistle, Canada Thistle, Creeping Thistle

Family: Asteraceae.

Known Hazards: None known.

Habitat: Arable land, roadsides etc, a common weed of cultivated land.

Edibility Rating: 2 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 2 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: Flowers: Many small flowers (florets) in heads 1.5–2.5 cm long; petals 12–18 mm long; female flowers scented. Flowers summer and autumn.The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies), beetles. The plant is self-fertile.Erect perennial thistle to 1 (rarely to 1.5) m high. Stems ridged, smooth, hairless to slightly hairy. Leaves lanceolate in outline, upper surface dark green and variably hairy, lower surface white woolly to hairless; basal leaves in a rosette, leaves to 15 cm long and to 4 cm wide, margins wavy to toothed, narrowing to the base; stem leaves to 7 cm long, lobed, not on a stalk and base continuing down stems for a short distance. Seeds light brown to olive, smooth, finely longitudinally grooved.

Bundanon, NSW Distinguishing features: Distinguished by creeping roots; spiny leaves; flowerheads 0.7–2.0 cm wide in panicles; florets all tubular, mauve, arising from a receptacle with bristle-like scales, male and female flowers on separate plants; bracts around heads soft, tips gradually pointed to short spined; seeds 2.5–4 mm long, compressed, topped by bristles 20–25 mm long.

Dispersal: Spreads by seed and creeping roots.

Edible Uses

Root of first year plants – raw or cooked. Nutritious but rather bland, they are best used in a mixture with other vegetables. The root is likely to be rich in inulin, a starch that cannot be digested by humans. This starch thus passes straight through the digestive system and, in some people, ferments to produce flatulence. Stems – they are peeled and cooked like asparagus or rhubarb. Leaves – raw or cooked. A fairly bland flavour, but the prickles need to be removed before the leaves can be eaten – not only is this rather fiddly but very little edible leaf remains. The leaves are also used to coagulate plant milks etc.

thistle

Medicinal Uses

Antiphlogistic; Astringent; Diuretic; Emetic; Emmenagogue; Hepatic; Tonic. The root is tonic, diuretic, astringent, antiphlogistic and hepatic. It has been chewed as a remedy for toothache. A decoction of the roots has been used to treat worms in children. A paste of the roots, combined with an equal quantity of the root paste of Amaranthus spinosus, is used in the treatment of indigestion. The plant contains a volatile alkaloid and a glycoside called cnicin, which has emetic and emmenagogue properties. The leaves are antiphlogistic. They cause inflammation and have irritating properties.

Other Uses

Oil; Tinder. The seed fluff is used as a tinder. The seed of all species of thistles yields a good oil by expression. The seed of this species contains about 22% oil.

Notes: Grows in cooler months, dying back in autumn to re-shoot from root buds. Forms large colonies with dense growth crowding out desirable plants. Weed of pastures, crops, roadsides and wasteland in higher rainfall areas, particularly in Victoria and Tasmania.

 

Ox-Eye Daisy

Latin Name: Leucanthemum vulgare

Flower Detail by Kenny MurrayOrigin: Native of Europe and western Asia.

Alternative Name(s): Chrysanthemum leucanthemum.

Family: Asteraceae.

Known Hazards: None known.

Habitat: A common weed of grassy fields on all the better types of soil, avoiding acid soils and shade.

Edibility Rating: 2 (1-5)

Medicinal Rating: 2 (1-5)

Physical Characteristics: Erect perennial herb to 1 m high. Leaves slightly hairy to hairless; basal and lower stem leaves ovate to spoon-shaped, to 15 (rarely to 18) cm long, to 2 (rarely to 4) cm wide, on a long stalk; stem leaves smaller, upper ones stem-clasping. Seeds dark brown, grey or black with pale ribs.
Flowers: Many small flowers (florets) in heads surrounded by bracts in several rows, bracts with dark membranous margins, longest bracts 5–8 mm long. Flowers most of year, mainly spring and summer. The flowers are hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies, beetles, Lepidoptera (Moths & Butterflies). The plant is self-fertile.

Image from Wikispecies

Image from Wikispecies

Distinguishing features: Distinguished by creeping roots; stem leaves alternate, toothed to pinnately lobed, upper leaves with base stem-clasping; flowerheads 1–3 (at ends of branches), mostly 3–6 cm wide; florets arising from a pitted receptacle without scales; outer petal-like ray florets 10–35, white, 1–1.5 cm long, entire to toothed at the tip; inner florets yellow, tubular; seeds about 2.5 mm long.

Dispersal: Spreads by seed and creeping roots.

Confused With: Shasta Daisy, Leucanthemum maximum, which generally has unbranched stems, flowers in heads 5–8 cm wide and regularly toothed leaves. Leucanthemum vulgare has irregularly toothed or lobed leaves.

Edible Uses

Leaves; Root. Leaves – raw or cooked. The young spring shoots are finely chopped and added to salads. Rather pungent, they should be used sparingly or mixed with other salad plants. Root – raw. Used in spring.

daisy

Medicinal Uses

Antispasmodic; Antitussive; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Emmenagogue; Tonic; Vulnerary. The whole plant, and especially the flowers, is antispasmodic, antitussive, diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, tonic and vulnerary. It is harvested in May and June then dried for later use. The plant has been employed successfully in the treatment of whooping cough, asthma and nervous excitability. Externally it is used as a lotion on bruises, wounds, ulcers and some cutaneous diseases. A decoction of the dried flowers and stems has been used as a wash for chapped hands. A distilled water made from the flowers is an effective eye lotion in the treatment of conjunctivitis.

Other Uses

None known

Notes: A showy garden escape.Weed of roadsides, cleared land, poor pastures and turf. Forms dense clumps that exclude other vegetation. Mainly grows in areas with over 750 mm per year. Not readily eaten by stock but if grazed will taint milk.