OF THE WEEK
Dr. T. Ombrello - UCC Biology Department
Daisy, Barberton Daisy, African Daisy, Veldt
Daisy, and Gerbera
Scientific name: Gerbera Jamesonii
of scientific name:
named in honor of T. Gerber, a German naturalist.
for Dr. L.S. Jameson, a British colonial statesman
in South Africa who was one of the discoverers of
Transvaal Daisy is one of approximately 70 species
All are perennials from South Africa,
but only a few in addition to Gerbera Jamesonii
are grown as ornamental flowering plants.
In nature, this species produces many
leaves, up to 10 inches in length, from a compact
stem at the soil surface. The leaves are woolly on
their undersides and radiate out from a central
growing point in a rosette fashion.
In May, the plants produce flower stalks up
to 1½ feet tall, topped with single daisy-like
orange flower heads up to 4 inches across.
Individual blossoms are durable and may
last up to 4 weeks on the plants.
the Transvaal Daisy was first discovered and
brought into cultivation over 100 years ago, its
primary use was for cut flowers because they were
so long lasting.
Plant breeders have been working with the
species for many decades now, and have produced
new cultivars that are more compact and come in a
variety of flower colors.
In addition to orange, they come in red,
yellow, pink, white, salmon, and violet.
Transvaal Daisies are still grown for cut flowers
(outdoors in California and Florida, in
greenhouses in other parts of the United States)
but are becoming increasingly popular as potted
plants and as bedding plants outdoors.
Grown from seed they will reach flowering
size in 6 to 9 months, but they can also be
propagated by division.
Offsets growing from the base of a mature
plant can be separated from the parent and grown
members of the Sunflower family of plants (now Asteraceae,
formerly Compositae), the Transvaal Daisies
count as close relatives such diverse plants as
asters, chrysanthemums, dahlias, dandelions,
lettuce, marigolds, sunflowers, and zinnias.
The family includes over 20,000 species,
making it one of the largest families in the plant
kingdom, representing about one tenth of the
species of flowering plants.
They are all grouped in the same family
because of their unique flowers.
|Gerbera in bloom in one of Union County College's Greenhouses.|
actual flowers of Transvaal Daisies, as well as
those of all members of the Sunflower family, are
very small and closely grouped into a compact
head, often consisting of hundreds of flowers, is
commonly mistaken for a single blossom.
There are usually two types of flowers
making up the head.
The disk flowers, with petals fused into an
inconspicuous tube, make up the main body of the
ray flowers, each with a single strap-shaped petal
on one side, are found along the outer edge of the
single petals of the ray flowers are large and
showy, which serve to attract pollinators to the
But, these flowers are frequently sterile
and produce no seeds, instead depending on the
less showy but fertile disk flowers to produce
some species only disk flowers or only ray flowers
are present on the head.
The flowering head strategy has numerous advantages for the members of the Sunflower family. The head is usually quite conspicuous to pollinators in comparison to individual flowers. Pollen is readily exposed to all comers, and at least several flowers are pollinated by a single insect during one visit. Insects need no special body or head parts to get at the nectar in the flowers, so the species are not normally dependent on one particular kind of pollinator. This head type, along with other characteristics, makes this family one of the most highly evolved among flowering plants.