All About Oxeye Daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum)

Oxeye Daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum)

Oxeye Daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum) is a common tenant of fields and roadsides across the Northwest, from highways and Forest Service roads to driveways and under powerlines. This is our new favorite wild edible spring green!

Oxeye Daisy on the Powerlines

Identifying Oxeye Daisy

Once you learn Oxeye Daisy (also known as Field Daisy) you will start seeing it everywhere. And once you taste the spicy-sweet, tender leaves you will find yourself reaching for this easily nibbled trail snack!

Oxeye Daisy typically grows flowering stems 2 to 3 feet tall. It is a perennial that grows back every year and is usually found growing in scattered clumps. It also freely reseeds which is how it has become so widespread.

In the early spring, the dark green leaves begin to emerge. This is when the long, erratically toothed leaves are most enjoyable as an edible spring green.

Later in the year, May through June or so, the white flowers with strong yellow center appear. Flowers are usually 2 to 3 inches across depending on growing conditions.

Flowering Oxeye Daisy and a Butterfly

Oxeye Daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum) Medicinal Uses

Prepare as a tea or tincture using recently dried herb.

According to Michael Moore in ‘Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West’, Oxeye Daisy’s medicinal uses include;

  • taken internally it decreases secretions for conditions such as excessive sweating, excess secretions, vaginal discharges, and runny eyes
  • applied externally it will dry and disinfect
  • mild anti-inflammatory and so especially helpful for symptoms accompanied by red, inflamed membranes
  • can help stop bleeding, especially mucus membrane bleeding such as in the mouth or for gastric ulcers
  • antifungal
  • antibacterial
  • use as a cleansing, disinfecting wash
  • can be used as a hair/beard rinse
  • may be useful as an antihistamine

Edible Uses

This is a wild edible that really surprises people with its amazing flavor! It reminds me a lot of arugula, only sweeter and not so spicy.

I think Oxeye daisy could likely be used just about anywhere you would use arugula or mustard greens. Harvest the young greens and serve them in salads or add them to a sandwich. Saute the greens like you would spinach or chard.

Edible Oxeye Daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum)

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Other uses for Oxeye Daisy

Oxeye Daisy in the Garden (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum)
Oxeye Daisy in the Garden

In the garden, the pyrethrins in Oxeye Daisy can be put to use as a gentle organic insecticide. Use the tinctured fresh flower (1 cup tincture and 1 tablespoon dish soap in a spray bottle) for an insecticidal spray. Or, grind the dry flowers to use as a powder.

And for pets, according to Michael Moore, the flowers can be dried and ground and “fluffed into the fur of pets for repelling fleas”.

When and How to Harvest Oxeye Daisy

READ: Sustainable and Responsible Foraging

For edible greens,

In early spring (April-May), harvest young greens as the plants emerge but before they flower. Leaves can be picked individually. Or for the most efficient harvest, when the shoots begin to get some height to them grab a handful at a time and snip the top 3 to 4 inches of the tender tips. Harvesting this way, you may get the young flower buds which is just as well, they are tasty too!

If you are unsure about the timing, sample the leaves before harvesting. Even when I harvest in the garden, I will taste test leaves of plants to test their palatability.

READ: Northwest Foraging – 9 Wild Foods to Gather in Early May

To harvest for drying,

For medicinal purposes, the plant is most potent when first flowering, typically in mid-June, but can be harvested through September. Gather the stems by small handfuls, remove any dead flowers or leaves, then bind the bundles in the field with rubberbands for easy transport and hanging.

The plant material will be ready for use or storage when the leaves are crisp to the touch, the stems have a dry ‘snap’ to them when you try to bend them, and the flower heads retain no moisture when they are broken open. Store as you would other dry herbs.

References

Moore, M. (2011). Medicinal plants of the Pacific West. Santa Fe: Museum of New Mexico Press.

Tilford, G. L. (1997). Edible and medicinal plants of the West. Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publ. Co.

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Disclaimer: This information is for research and educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Do your research!

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