Big Weed

Little Weed
, the floral friend of Bill and Ben (the flower pot men), was a daisy of some kind. In its more recent incarnations I gather the 'weed' is more clearly a Sunflower.

We are all familiar with large-flowered daisies, like Little Weed, but even the sunflower is still a still a herb, albeit a big one. Our gardens are full of marigolds, cornflowers, everlastings and variously adjectived asters and daisies. There are herby annuals and perennials, and plenty of small shrubs.

Coming into flower soon in Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens is one of the tallest and robust daisy plants in the world. Very few daisies are more than small shrubs, but at 4 m high the Daisy Tree or Tree Daisy (Montanoa grandiflora) from Mexico is a spectacular sight.

The Tree Daisy grows in the shadow of the Cahill Expressway, on the walk from the State Library gate down to the Pyramid. At the moment you can see the angular and segmented, trowel-shaped leaves on vigorous shoots. In a few weeks (I hope!), you'll see the typical fried-egg daisy flower, with yellow middle and white petals, and smell a sweet perfume.

The genus name Montanoa, by the way, commemorates an eighteenth century Mexican politician and amateur botanist, Luis Montana. Grandiflora? Well, this means big flowered. Compared with the sunflower its a misnomer, but presumably the flowers are big for a Montanoa!

If you miss the flowers, the seed heads are described in our database as 'decorative' and 'chartreuse' in colour. You might have to wait until mid-winter for these.

If you want to grow it yourself, the Tree Daisy is hardy in frost-free regions like coastal Sydney.


Jim said…
Got any tree marigold, Tithonia diversifolia, to go with it? ;)
I wonder how big the tallest daisy tree gets? Some of the Olearia in PNG can get to 5 m or more.
Tim Entwisle said…
Well, we have two Tree Marigolds in the Royal Botanic Gardens, apparently (according to our database). Must have a look, and take my measuring stick. I wouldn't be surprised if there are bigger Asteraceae than the Tree Daisy but I've been 'told' it's the biggest... Maybe it is?
Anonymous said…
I bought a plant yesterday at a reputable nursery in Adelaide, labelled "Montanoa montana 'Tree Daisy' ". The usually-knowledgeable staff didn't know much about it. Having failed to find any reference to this variety on the net, I wonder if it has been mis-labelled, and is really a Montanoa Grandiflora? I have a frost-free situation, but of course Adelaide has very low summer humidity which this plant may not like. I'll come and look at the SRBG specimen when I'm next in Sydney so I know what I am aiming for.
Tim Entwisle said…
There are a couple of species of Montanoa grown around the world and Montanoa bipinnatifida is a bit weedy in northern Australia. There is no record of a 'Montanoa montana' that I can find either (and it probably isn't an acceptable name under the botanical code, but that's a different story) - it seems that someone has incorporated Mr Montana (after who the genus was named) into the species name somehow... Which ever species you havae, I don't know that humidity will important but it definitely doesn't like frosts. Good one to try in a frost-free bit of Adelaide!
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