Sunday, December 7, 2014

South African Daisy

The South African daisy is a popular cultivated plant. In recent years it has been planted widely in gardens, in soft areas along roads and in other public places so I was not too surprised when I saw it growing profusely along the side of several country roads near Rabat.
This species of daisy can grow up to half a metre high. Many varieties are available in garden centres throughout the world and new ones are being created every year.

The South African daisy is one of several species of related daisies originating in southern Africa. It is usually found in high altitudes being most adapted to live between 1000 and 3000 metres above sea level.

Plants can be annuals or perennials. In areas where the ground freezes they survive the colder parts of the year as seeds but in milder climates they can live for several years.

The flowers have a typical daisy shape. In wild plants they are pink with a yellow disc with a blue centre.  Cultivated varieties have large flowers which range in colour from white to violet.  Some varieties have spoon-shaped petals.
In Malta the South African daisy readily propagates from seed and it can easily spread into the Maltese countryside. Introduced species can spread very fast because and outnumber indigenous species.

In fact the most common plant in the Maltese countryside, the Cape sorrel, known in Maltese as ħaxixa ngliża is also a native of South Africa. It was introduced in Malta about two hundred years ago as a garden plant but soon escaped into the countryside and spread throughout the Maltese islands. It is now found in most Mediterranean countries.  

This article was published in Th Times of Malta on 20 March 2014

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