This section is from the book "British Wild Flowers - In Their Natural Haunts Vol2-4", by A. R. Horwood. Also available from Amazon: A British Wild Flowers In Their Natural Haunts.
Dicky Daisy, Ewe-gowan, Gowan, May Gowan, Gowlan, Mary Gow-lan, Hen and Chickens, Herb Margaret, March Daisy, Margaret's Herb, Marguerite, Maudlinwort, Mother of thousands, Silver Penny, Primrose, Sweep, Sweeps.
The name Bairn wort may be given because children gather it so much; but as to Benwort, of which it may be a variant. Turner says: "The northern men call this herbe a banwort because it helpeth bones to knyt agayne." The name Bruisewort is applied because "the leaves stamped taketh away bruises and swellings if they be laide thereon, whereupon it was called in olde time Bruiseworte". So at any rate says Gerarde. The name Daisy is from the A.S. daeges cage, eye of day, from its opening and closing its flowers with the daylight. In connection with the name May Gowan there is a Berwickshire saying: "Yell get round again, if ye had your fit (foot) on the May Gowan."
A Daisy is taken and its leaves plucked one by one to test sincerity by lovers, who say at the same time, "Does he love me a little - much - passionately - not at all?" when they count.
La Blanche et simple Paguerette,
Qui ton coeur consulte surtout,
Dit, ton amant, tendre filette,
Jaime, un peu, beaucoup, point du tout.
Girls put Daisy roots under their pillows to dream of their lovers. To dream of the Daisy is lucky in spring or summer, but not so in autumn or winter. The appearance of the Daisy helps the peasant in the north to mark the season's advance.
Spring has not arrived till you can set your foot on twelve Daisies.
When a tooth is extracted, to be free from toothache, in Thuringia, you must eat three Daisies.
They were scattered over graves, says Gay. The name Marguerite was erroneously derived from Margaret of Cortuna.
There is a double flouret, white and red,
That our lasses call herb-Margaret,
In honour of Cortona's penitent,
Whose contrite soul with red remorse was rent,
While on her penitence kind heaven did throw
The white of purity, surpassing snow;
So white and red in this fair flower entwine,
Which maids are wont to scatter at her shrine.
The ointment "Save" in Chaucer's day was partly prepared from the Daisy. It was said in the eighteenth century to be a cure for hectic fevers caused by drinking cold water when overheated. In Germany it was eaten with meat as a potherb. Cattle, horses, and sheep do not touch it.
Chaucer eulogized it in his day: In special one called Se of the Daie,
The Daisie, a floure white and rede,
And in French called La bel Margarete,
O commendable floure above all flouris in the meede,
Than love I most those flouris white and rede,
Such that men callen Daisies in our Town.
Essential Specific Characters: 152. Bellis perennis, L. - No aerial stem, but prostrate rhizome, leaves radical, obovate, crenate, dentate, flowerheads on scapes, white ray florets, yellow disk florets. Some flowers have all ligulate florets, or all tubular florets, bracts in one row.