We generally begin our assessment of a person as handsome or beautiful, masculine or feminine, tall or short, all of which are external attributes. If we are wise, we know that the real measure is the character of the person such as honesty, trustworthiness, dependability, kindness, and so on. In 1 Samuel 16: 7 (NIV) we read, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
The wildflower we examine today is pretty to look at but has an invasive spirit. As settlers arrived along the East Coast they began to clear the forests for farming. Soon cattle and horses were imported. The hay that accompanied them contained the seeds of the ox-eye daisy. It is commonly believed that a scourge of Europe was thus accidentally inflicted upon the New World.
A scourge? Yes! The ox-eye daisy is very prolific and during Colonial times spread throughout pastures until ordinances were passed in New England fining persons who did not attempt to pull up all these pests. (Sanders)
Ox-eye daisy is only one of a genus that has about 100 members worldwide. The composite blossom measures 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches wide. It has 20 to 30 white petals (rays) around a yellow center. The yellow center is actually a large cluster of florets, each with stamen and pistil bearing seeds. The white rays were once flowers that over the centuries have lost their reproductive function. The 18 to 30 inch tall plant has leaves that alternate up the stem to the single flower at the top.
As stated above, the ox-eye daisy has the capacity to be a serious pest. First, a single plant can produce as many as 40 flowering stems. Secondly, each bloom when pollinated can produce as many as 200 2mm flat seeds. As modern agronomists have studied this plant they have discovered that several noxious chemicals are in its make-up that adversely affect livestock. The Yankees of New England were right to do all possible to eliminate the “scourge.”
The most common lore of this daisy is “He loves me, he loves me not”; however, a plant this common and widespread accumulates many names and much lore. In ancient Greece it was dedicated to the goddess of women, Artemis, and considered good for women’s complaints. Later in early Christianity it was the plant of St. Mary Magdalen and called the Maudlin daisy. During the 18th century, herbalists used it as an antispasmodic, a diuretic, and a treatment for jaundice, whooping cough, asthma, and even as a salve for wounds.
Today, ox-eye daisy is present from coast to coast, including northward into Canada. Thus we have an historic example of the axiom “Change most often brings both good and bad consequences in its wake.” Progress for some people is good, yet for others it is bad.
Let’s always pray that as our area continues to grow, our leaders will carefully weigh both the good and the bad consequences of every decision and wisely choose the greatest good.