A range of flowers in Colins Paddock

Map of the Down

map_aug_2107_base_scan_453Click on map to view at larger size.
(Opens a Pop-up window; you may have to re-size the new window and zoom in to actually see the map at a larger size!)

Wild flowers at Magog Down prev  :  next

Ox-eye Daisy - Chrysanthemum leucanthemum

oxeye_dairy_250(also known as Dog Daisy, Moon Daisy or Marguerite)

oxeye_daisy_315Like so many of the more conspicuous plants of Magog Down, ox-eye daisies are members of the dandelion family (Compositae). Their handsome flowers, sometimes more than two inches across, are held high on stems up to two feet tall which spring from rosettes of leaves close to the ground. The scientific name, Chrysanthemum leucanthemum, translates from the Greek as 'Golden-flower white flower' and it is the contrast between the golden disc florets and the white ray florets which makes the plant so attractive.

So handsome is the plant that the old Norsemen associated it with Baldur the Beautiful, giving it the name of 'Baldur's brow'. In Christian times it, like many other midsummer flowers became linked with St. John the Baptist (feast day 24th June) after whom it is named in many European languages. In England, however, it seems more frequently to have been linked with St. Mary Magdalen (hence the name 'maudlin-wort' by which it was known to the herbalist Gerard). This may have been partly due to that saint's feast day also occurring in midsummer (22nd June) and partly to the supposed efficacy of the plant in treating 'women's complaints'. Other medical uses of the plant have included the application of its flowers or bruised leaves to reduce swellings, its infusion to make a reputedly excellent drink (when sweetened with honey) to relieve chronic coughs and bronchial catarrhs, its use as a decoction in ale to cure jaundice, and (my favourite) its use as a decoction to cure "all Diseases that are occasion'd by drinking cold beer when the body is hot"!

Ox-eye daisies are found throughout Europe and into Russian Asia. It is most frequently met with in rough pastures or on roadside verges but in the past it was considered an important weed of arable land. Too acrid to be palatable to cows, it is nevertheless eaten by horses and its seeds (200 of which can be produced by a single flower) can be spread in horse dung. In the days of horse husbandry it was thus easily spread from pasture land to arable fields.

David Yarham
May 1996

See also...

Report of the visit from Cambridge Natural History Society in August 2017


News about a visit by the local branch of Butterfly Conservation charity taking place in August 2016


News about the very special area of Colin's Bank, published in February 2015

Pasque Flower

One of our Friends sent us this beautiful picture of some Pasque Flowers taken in amongst the Cowslips in May 2016.pasqueflower_jb_may2016_crop_453

Photo by Jill Butler