African daisies

An exercise in names, common and taxonomic.

It starts with the genus Gerbera, which I looked at in “Gerbera and other daisy-oid flowers”, here: the Transvaal daisy, Barberton daisy, or African daisy. That posting runs through six other genera with daisy in (one or more of) their common names: Bellis, Leucanthemum, Symphyotrichum (formerly Aster), Anthemis, Argyranthemum, Erigeron. None labeled as African, however.

But there are at least three other genera with African daisy as one of their common names: Gazania, Osteospermum (formerly Dimorphotheca), and Arctotis. All (like Gerbera) gorgeous, showy flowers with Africa in their histories.

Gazania. A cultivar fairly close to the original:


Gazania … is a genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae, native to Southern Africa. They produce large, daisy-like composite flowers in brilliant shades of yellow and orange, over a long period in summer. They are often planted as drought-tolerant groundcover. (Wikipedia link)

Gazania seeds and plants are frequently sold as Ganzia or African Daisies.

They have been naturalized in Australia, New Zealand, the Mediterranean, and, oh yes, California. And a wider variety of colors have been bred:


The genus was first formally described by German botanist Joseph Gaertner in the second volume of his major work De Fructibus et Seminibus Plantarum in 1791. Gaertner named the genus after Theodorus Gaza, a 15th-century translator of the works of Theophrastus. (Wikipedia)

And on Theophrastus:

Theophrastus (… c. 371 – c. 287 BC), a Greek native of Eresos in Lesbos, was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. He came to Athens at a young age and initially studied in Plato’s school. After Plato’s death, he attached himself to Aristotle. Aristotle bequeathed to Theophrastus his writings and designated him as his successor at the Lyceum. Theophrastus presided over the Peripatetic school for thirty-six years, during which time the school flourished greatly. He is often considered the “father of botany” for his works on plants. (Wikipedia link)

He also wrote extensively on grammar and logic (as these subjects were understood in ancient Greece).

Osteospermum. This seems to be the genus that is most commonly referred to as the African daisy. An assortment of cultivars:


(Note the Spoon cultivars.)

Osteospermum … [or daisybushes] is a genus of flowering plants belonging to the Calenduleae, one of the smaller tribes of the sunflower/daisy family Asteraceae [Calendula is the genus of pot marigolds].

Osteospermum used to belong to the genus Dimorphotheca, but only the annual species remain in that genus; the perennials belong to Osteospermum.

The scientific name is derived from the Greek osteon (bone) and Latin spermum (seed). It has been given several common names: African daisy, South African daisy, Cape daisy and blue-eyed daisy [also (African) Cape marigold].

There are about 50 species, native to Africa — 35 species in southern Africa — and the southwestern Arabian Peninsula. They are half-hardy perennials or subshrubs. Therefore they do not survive outdoor wintry conditions, but there is still a wide range of hardiness.

Arctotis. Another genus routinely referred to as African daisy. A display of cultivars:


Arctotis is a genus of annual and perennial plants in the family Asteraceae.

Arctotis is native to dry stony slopes in southern Africa. Some of the plants are alternatively placed in the genus Venidium. The common name is “African daisy”, or “Gousblom” in Afrikaans. These plants have daisy-like composite flowers which tend to close in the late afternoon or in dull weather, but numerous cultivars have been developed for garden use which stay open for longer, and are available in a wide range of colours.

(I note some wonderful cultivar names: Pink Sugar, Pumpkin Pie, Bumble Bee, Sunspot, Flame, Opera Fire.)

The generic name appears to come from Greek arkt– ‘bear’ + ot– ‘ear’ — a fancied resemblance in a flower-part.

2 Responses to “African daisies”

  1. A walk around the block | Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] plant, from my 8/31/15 posting “African […]

  2. What do the Red Daisy Flower, Red Gerbera and Red African Daisy Symbolize? Says:

    […] Gazania are also a variation that are commonly marketed and sold as African Daisies. As are the Arctotis genus. […]

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