Hello Readers, this month we have a most obliging flower which grows everywhere on our beautiful island of Paros - Agriomandilida - which flowers between March and June.
On each of its many branched stems there are leaves which are cut twice to form linear lobes. The flower heads are 3-6cms across each with a sunray of white petals surrounding its yellow or white yellow centre. One flower can have as many as 500 tubular florets within its golden centre.
It is widely grown in gardens today in many colour forms. It is found both in cultivated and wild areas in the Mediterranean region - Former Yugoslavia, Greece, Islands of the Adriatic, Crete, Turkey and in Europe.
The name comes from the latin Marguerita which means pearl. Dodonaeus called them Mandilida (big daisies). L.Fuchs (1534) gave its scientific name of Bellis Majoor.
As they are in full bloom around the 24th June (St.Jan's Day in Holland) they are also known as the St.Jan's flower. Traditionally this is when people would plait the flowers into garlands and throw them up onto the roof of their house and stable to act as a protection from lightening and fire.
It is still thought of as a sort of oracle - when their petals are pulled off one by one to the incantation "heaven - purgatory - hell" or, as a love oracle when they say, "he loves me - he loves me not!". This is a universal game in many countries.
In ancient times it was used to make a tea to sooth a sore throat. Alternatively, an essence was made from it which was applied to wounds or to stop nose bleeds. The stalks were eaten as a pot-herb and John Goodyer adds to Dioscorides (lst Cent.AD) the words "if you take it out of ye earth before the arising of the sun and bind it to your body and hang it about the neck, it doth good, averting the women witches, and all enchantments".
However, more than anything, this flower brings the sun into our hearts.