Rachel Lambert: forager, author, guide

Wild Food: Daisies

Daisies on a foraging walk in Cornwall

As a young child I sat with my friends on thesoft grass near my house. Surrounded by daisies (Bellis perennis) we dared each other to eat one. I remember munching away on the texture of this weed and feeling very naughty. I never told anyone.

Fast forward a couple of decades (or so) I discovered it wasn't 'wrong' to eat a daisy as they're actually good for you! In this blog I share when to eat daisies, what they're good for, where to pick them, who should eat them (and who should avoid them) and also when to be cautious and not eat daisies.

A single, common daisy flower on a foraging course

Are daisies edible?

The daisy family is the largest plant family (Asteraceae) often called Composites. All the plants in this family all with the commonality of a single, compound flowerhead. Not all daisies in this family are edible.

On this blog I am focusing on what I call common daisies - the small daisies that grow in lawns (see how to identify daisies below). These are edible! The flowers, stems and leaves.

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) and Pineapple weed (Matricaria discoidea) are two other edible members of the daisy family. You can find out more in my other blogs;

Daisies next to my dog on a foraging walk

Are daisies weeds?

Daisies are often considered a weed, yet they are also a food! A weed is defined as; a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants. Perhaps we have just forgotten the use of so-called weeds, I definitely think so!

How to identify daisies

Daisies (Bellis perennis) are a low growing, perennial plant growing up to 12 cm high. There is just one flower on each slender stem, the flowers have a dense yellow centre surrounded by white, and sometimes crimson-tipped, petals.

They grow on lawns and are native to North Africa, Western Asia and Europe and have naturalised in the USA. The leaves are almost oval shaped and furry.

Cynotype of daisies

The cyanotype image above shows the silhouette image of a common daisy - I 'photographed' this on my birthday a couple of years ago!

Plate of edible spring leaves and flowers on a foraging course

When is the best time to eat daisies?

Common daisies can flower between Spring and Autumn. They are there best as spring and summer flowers, and the leaves are most tender in spring. However as daisies often grow on lawns that are mowed regularly, fresh, tender daisies could appear any time of year!

Edible daisies on a foraging course

Why eat daisies?

Well my 7 year old self would say because it is fun and naughty! Though daisies also provide important nutrients. I often tell parents on my foraging courses about the common weeds that are edible, including daisies - it's good to know which weeds your children are eating which are safe and good for you!

Daisies have a high amount of vitamin C and have also been used medicinally for many infections of the respiratory tract including coughs, colds, catarrh, bronchitis and sinusitis.

Daisies in salad, learnt on a foraging course

How to use daisies?

I love adding daisies into salad for their prettiness, below I share a video on making daisy chains to add as edible decorations onto raw or cooked dishes. I've added this onto fish dishes, dressings, salads or over cooked greens. You can also make daisy tea by just pouring boiling water over the flowers and leaves and leaving to steep for 10 minutes.

Daisy chain on forager's dog's head!

Making an edible daisy chain

Daisy chains is a childhood joy and something I occasionally make time for as an adult. It's a timeless craft, doesn't take long and it great for decorating yourself, food, your children or the dog!

When NOT to eat daisies

There are a couple of reasons not to eat daisies. Some people are allergic to this family or may have a reaction. I remember drinking too much chamomile tea as a teenager (I had read it cleanses the skin!) and I came out in a rash. So avoid if you have a reaction to this plant family and don't eat or drink too many.

Secondly, many people still treat their lawns with weed killer or pesticides. Never eat daisies that may have been treated with chemicals.

Daisies on a foraging walk in Cornwall

2 comments on “Wild Food: Daisies”

  1. Love the daisy chain song and the photos of doggy decoration . So wish there wasn't so much weed killer stuff around ... making it hard to be sure of daisy's within a city scape.. Ok in own garden space . Gorgeous photos!!

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