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The Chocolate Daisy

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The Chocolate Daisy Photo © Quinn Dombrow
Can you forgive the foliage of this unassuming wildflower for resembling a dandelion? You can after you smell the unbelievable fragrance of the chocolate daisy. And, although it would be too much to ask that the flowers taste as good as they smell, the chocolate daisy is classified as an herb, and can garnish your salads as well as your bouquets.

Latin Name:

Genus Berlandiera lyrata, Family Asteraceae

Common Names:

Chocolate Daisy, Chocolate Flower, Green-Eyed Lyre Leaf, Lyreleaf Greeneyes

Zone:

4-10

Size:

One to two feet

Exposure:

Full sun

Bloom Period:

An attribute of the chocolate daisy is its exceptional blooming period. The flowers may bloom from spring until frost, with the heaviest blooming time occurring right around the summer solstice.

Description:

The foliage of the chocolate daisy is elongated and slightly lobed, with the grayish tint characteristic of many drought tolerant plants. The small 2-inch yellow flowers resemble those of the coreopsis. They are a clear yellow, with eight petals in a simple ray shape. The eye of the daisies are green, and upon close inspection you may notice the little burgundy pollen filaments bearing yellow anthers.

In the morning, the distinct aroma of the chocolate flower is the strongest. In the heat of the afternoon, the flowers may look a bit listless, but they will revive the following day.

Planting:

Although you can find these plants growing extensively across the plains and mesas of Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and Oklahoma, you don’t need to disturb their native habitat by collecting plants. You can collect seeds of the chocolate daisy in the spring and summer, and they germinate easily in lean soils. Plant the seeds anytime during the frost-free growing season.

Whether you start with seeds or with transplants from the nursery or mail-order catalog, be sure to plant the chocolate daisy in well-drained soil. You will have the best success in duplicating the plant’s natural habitat of rocky, sandy soil types. Some clay is fine, as long as the plants never get wet feet, in which case they will rot.

Maintenance:

The adage “less is more” applies to the care of the chocolate daisy. Less fertilizer, less water, and less pesticide sprays are the key to this easy flowering perennial. Use your grass clipping shears to deadhead the many leafless stems all at once, to encourage reblooming.

Design Tips:

  • The chocolate daisy is an obvious choice for the fragrant flower garden. Don’t hesitate to pick the flowers for a nosegay bouquet, as picking releases more of the heady perfume.
  • Plant the chocolate daisy in the rock garden or alpine garden, as it appreciates rocky soils. Place it close to paths where you can observe the small blooms and catch a whiff of chocolate.
  • Include the chocolate daisy in the xeriscape garden. It rarely needs supplemental watering.
  • Add the chocolate daisy to your wildflower meadow.
  • The chocolate daisy is an important source of nectar. Attract both butterflies and beneficial wasps to your flower garden with this plant.
  • Replace a small area of your lawn with chocolate daisy plants. You can even mow the plants, and they will grow back vigorously, but never invasively.
  • Foil deer with the chocolate daisy. Perhaps the fragrance most intoxicating to many humans is repellant to deer. What a happy coincidence!
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