The Mediterranean Daisy (Bellis sylvestris)
I saw a lovely field full of the Mediterranean Daisy (Bellis sylvestris) yesterday. Its name in Castellano is Bellorita which is probably quite suitable. In Catalan the plant is called Margalida, Margalideta, Margaridoia or Primavera (Spring), again more than fitting considering that we are only 28 days or four weeks away from the official first day of Spring. In the Balearics, the daisy’s seeds are probably carried around in the soil by insects such as ants.
The little gem of a flower is thought to have its name daisy by way of a corruption of day’s eye, because the whole head closes at night and opens again in the morning.
The plant is not poisonous. In fact, its leaves are edible. They are mild and agreeable and can be used in salads.
Daisies are a popular domestic remedy with a wide range of applications. They are a traditional wound herb and are also said to be especially useful in treating delicate and listless children. The herb is said to be mildly anodyne, antispasmodic, anti-tussive, demulcent, digestive, emollient, expectorant, laxative, ophthalmic, purgative and tonic. The fresh or dried flowering heads are normally used. An infusion is used in the treatment of catarrh, rheumatism, arthritis, liver and kidney disorders, as a blood purifier etc. The Daisy was an ingredient of an ointment much used in the fourteenth century for wounds, gout and fevers. A strong decoction of the roots has been recommended for the treatment of scorbutic complaints and eczema, though it needs to be taken for some time before its effect becomes obvious. A mild decoction may ease complaints of the respiratory tract, rheumatic pains and painful or heavy menstruation. The plant, harvested when in flower, is used as a homeopathic remedy. Its use is especially indicated in the treatment of bruising etc.
Recent research has been looking at the possibility of using the plant in HIV therapy.