This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V23", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In one of the back numbers of the Monthly a timely warning was published against Convolvulus arvensis. It may not be amiss to extend this warning to the Ox-eye daisy, as it is no less a pernicious weed than the Convolvulus arvensis. Besides, it is now destined to rapidly become a general object over our fields and meadows throughout the country, on account of its flowers being introduced in the floral trade. I noticed that some of our New York seedsmen have upon their seed papers the name "Ox-eye Daisy," meaning the French daisy - a different plant altogether: this undoubtedly leads many people to the belief that it really means the common wild ox-eye daisy; the seed of which is also very fine, and can be easily sent in a letter to a friend, and in this way facilitate the speedy distribution of this troublesome weed to the remotest part of this country, to the detriment of every farmer. In this section all farmers find it almost impossible to combat with, to prevent it from taking entire possession of their timothy fields and meadows, of which many illustrations can be seen here.
The Ox-eye daisy is a perennial of low growth, beginning to bloom in the latter part of May, and continues until autumn. Its erect flower-stems attain a height of eighteen inches to two feet, and-each bears a large and showy flower, with a yellow disk, and pure white rays. It cannot fail to appeal to sympathy and be spared for a time wherever it may make its first appearance, and that its appeal is strong can be judged from the fact that thousands of blossoms in one season are disposed of by florists of New York city. Were it not for its abominable aggressiveness upon cultivated plants it would deserve a place in every flower garden.
According to Linnaeus its botanical name is Chrysanthemum Leucanthemum. But some botanists have divided the genus and this is now Leucanthemum. Like all our worst weeds, it too came from Europe. The seeds mature and germinate in one season, and the plantlets attain sufficient size before winter sets in, to enable them to bloom and produce seeds the following season. That there is reason to apprehend that this weed may become wide-spread now, more so than ever before, I will mention this instance: A florist in the neighborhood of New York city tried to force it, and knowing it only by the name "daisy," he imagined that it was the same thing he saw in Paris grown as standards; laboring under this impression, he procured several hundred plants from meadows and roadsides in the early part of the summer, and planted them in the green-house among his Jacqueminot roses. During the winter the ox eye daisy made very little growth; but about two weeks before they began to bloom outside, three flowers were fit to cut; after that they were plentiful, and far superior on the fields to those in his greenhouse. Besides, they soon began to crowd the roses, and therefore had to be taken up by the roots.
The extraordinary growth they made in so short a time was astonishing; the roses, however, did not suffer any, as the crop was unusually large and of superior quality. [Served him right. Two or three dollars a year to his neighbor, the Agriculturist, the Rural New Yorker, or even the Gardener's Monthly, would have saved him all this loss. But he is no doubt yet "down on book larnin." - Ed.] The "daisy," as a forcer, proved a failure, but not as an addition to the list of vexatious weeds of the garden, as they were transferred from the greenhouse to the open ground, with the expectation of deriving some benefit from them there. From this experience the florist became conscious of his mistake in regard to the variety. There can scarcely be any doubt as to the possibility that under similar circumstances this weed was carried into parts of the country where it heretofore was unknown; and it may be to the interest of every gardener, and especially the farmer, to be aware of this coming evil.
It is to be hoped that the good qualities of the French daisy will be appreciated and win the love of every admirer of floriculture, so as to discard forever this obnoxious weed, the ox-eye daisy, to which may be attributed the cause of many farms becoming almost unfit for cultivation, and innumerable tons of hay annually made by it unmarketable in this section, where in summer the fields represent oceans of ox-eye daisy flowers. It seems as though they could never be gotten rid of when once established ; a fact serious enough to contemplate by all cultivators, as to the advisability of resorting to some means that will check its invasion upon new territories.
So long as agricultural products continue to flow eastward, there will be little or no danger of its immigrating westward through this source, but since it is becoming a department of floriculture, any encouragement towards cultivating it may have a serious termination not at present suspected.
[The French,or Paris daisy is Chrysanthemum frutescens, and it may be that C. foeniculaceum is either the same or a closely-allied species, - for we have not the material at hand to decide. Under the latter name a pretty shrubby species is now becoming common in American gardens. Its glaucous green foliage renders it valuable in mosaic gardening, when kept sheared back, so as to prevent flowering. - Ed. G. M].