(Leucanthemum vulgare. Formerly known as Chrysanthemum leucanthemum.)
Aster Family / Aster Subfamily Subfamily / Chamomile Tribe
By Thomas J. Elpel with additions by Pamela G. Sherman
About Oxeye Daisy: The old name, Chrysanthemum leucanthemum, means "gold flower white flower." The new name, Leucanthemum vulgare means "common white flower." It is also known as bull daisy, button daisy, dog daisy, field daisy, goldens, marguerite, midsummer daisy, moon flower, and white weed.
Oxeye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare) is a beautiful flower, one that is both loved and hated. It was a plague on pastures and crop fields across Europe. The Scots called the flowers "gools". The farmer with the most gools in their wheat field had to pay an extra tax. Now the gools have invaded this continent from coast to coast.
The lower leaves are spoon-shaped, while the upper leaves are narrow and clasp the stem. It can be confused with Shasta daisy (Leucanthemum x superbum/Chrysanthemum maximum), which can grow 6-12 inches taller and has larger flowers and foliage. Shasta daisy has a root ball, while oxeye daisy has a creeping root system. It can also be confused with Scentless chamomile (Anthemis arvensis) , but the latter is an annual and has smaller flowers with much more finely dissected leaves. Oxeye likes rights-of-way, rangeland, mountain meadows, abandoned homesteads, and the edge of waterways.
The oxeye daisy is short-lived perennial originally brought here from Europe. The dainty flowers have escaped cultivation and now crowd out other plants on many rangelands. A vigorous daisy can produce 26,000 seeds per plant, while smaller specimens produce 1,300 to 4,000 seeds per plant. Tests have shown that 82% of the buried seeds remained viable after six years, and 1% were still viable after 39 years. Oxeye daisy requires cold winters to initiate blooming. The plant also reproduces vegetatively with spreading rootstalks. Daisies are resistant to many herbicides.
Edibility: Eden Project's Emma Gunn in the blog post, How to forage and cook ox eye daisies gives a recipe for tempura battered oxeye daisies, sweet and savory snacks, and also suggests pickling the flowers.
Despite having a bitter taste, young leaves of oxeye daisy are eaten in salads in parts of Italy although the plant is not renowned for this use. The root root is said to be edible raw too, preferably in the spring. [Montana Plant Life]
Medicinal: The oxeye daisy is mildly aromatic, like its close cousin, chamomile. The leaves and flowers are edible, though palatability may vary. A tea of the plant is useful for relaxing the bronchials. It is diuretic and astringent, useful for stomach ulcers and bloody piles or urine. Also used as a vaginal douche for cervical ulceration. The daisy is aromatic, used as an antispasmodic for colic and general digestive upset.
Oxeye daisy, harvested before it goes to seed and dried for use later, has been used medicinally for thousands of years in Europe and by the Iroquois, Menominee, Mohegan, Quileute and Shinnecock Native Americans. Internally, the whole plant, particularly the flowers, is said to have successfully helped relax bronchial spasms and whooping coughs. It has been said to reduce toxicity by stimulating sweat and urination a well as to heal night sweats, wounds, and jaundice, and to effectively heal asthma and nervous conditions. Even though Ox-eye daisy can be a skin irritant for some, it is said to have been used externally as a lotion to treat ulcers, bruises, cuts and as an eye wash from the flowers to treat conjunctivitis.
We don't know to what extent and in what circumstances it proved effective and a recognised herbalist should be consulted for correct usage and doses.[Montana Plant Life], [Plants for a Future]
Prevention: Oxeye daisy is sometimes an ingredient in wildflower seed mixes, so read labels carefully.
Mechanical: dig up the whole plant before it flowers; go 6" down to be sure to get the shallow root systems. Continue this for a few years, as seeds are in the soil bank. Then reseed: shade oxeye daisy with at least 50% grass or other shady native forb cover to prevent re-establishment. [MSU Extension]
Grazing: Sheep, goats and horses eat the oxeye daisy, but cows and pigs do not like it. The plant spreads rapidly when cattle pastures are managed with a low stock density and continuous grazing regime. Under these conditions, cows repeatedly select their preferred plants, while ignoring unpalatable species like the oxeye daisy.
Switching to higher stock densities and shorter grazing periods does encourage cattle to eat and trample more of the plant. Intensive grazing and trampling slightly reduces the number of seeds produced, and presumably injures younger rootstalks. Trampling also brings dormant seeds to the surface and removes the canopy cover so those seeds will germinate with mid-summer rain showers. In normal years, those seedlings will dry-out and die before becoming established, further reducing the number of seeds in the seed bank. It should be noted, however, that intensive grazing in wet summers may increase the number of successful seedlings. As many as 40% percent of the seeds consumed by cattle may remain viable after passing through the digestive tract, so care should be taken to avoid spreading the seeds when moving stock. If a pasture is intensively short-term grazed with cattle (do this before it flowers), studies show sheep and goats must then graze it again. [MSU Extension]
Chemical: Oxeye daisy is somewhat resistant to MCPA, 2,4-D and dicamba (Banvel®), but the herbicides are effective in higher concentrations. Picloram (Tordon® 22K) and sulfometuron methyl (Oust®) can also be used on daisies.
Important: Most "weed problems" are really "people problems" from poor land management and a lack of ecological insight. It is easy to reach for a tool like fire, mowing, or herbicides to attack an out-of-control weed, but often those tools do little to get to the root cause of the weed infestation, and sometimes make the problems worse. Please read more about range ecology, desertification, and invasive weeds on this website before applying any tool of weed control. Go to: Desertification and Invasive Weeds.
- Thomas J. Elpel. Botany in a Day. HOPS Press: Pony, MT. January 2000.
- Bret E. Olson, Roseann T. Wallander, and Peter K. Fay. "Intensive Cattle Grazing of Oxeye Daisy." Weed Technology. Volume 11, #1, January-March, 1997. Pages 176-181
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