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The Asteraceae, or daisy, family is a group of plants filled with not only beautiful but lots of edible and medicinal members, too. Some of the members will seem very obvious, such as, well, the daisy. Others, however, might come as a surprise!

The great thing is that many of these plants might already be growing wild in your area while others are super easy to grow for yourself.

Have a look at this list of super plants in the daisy family and learn how to forage or grow some of them in your backyard.


Camomile flowers

Source: matsuyuki/Flickr

Chamomile might be familiar to you as a sleepytime tea. It has specific antioxidants that aid sleep and help to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. It is also a natural anti-inflammatory and can be used topically to reduce inflamed and red skin.

There are two types of chamomile, and both are simple to grow at home. Roman chamomile (Chamaemelum Nobile) is a perennial, while German chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is an annual. The perennial kind will come back year after year and spread by runners. The annual type is a prolific self-seeder, so you will likely get volunteer plants for years to come.

Both types of chamomile can be grown easily by seed. The seeds need light to germinate, so sprinkle the tiny seeds on the surface of damp soil and tamp them in. The seedlings don’t love to be transplanted, so it is worth waiting until after the last frost to direct sow them in your garden.

Once the plant has bloomed, you can harvest the flowers and use them fresh or dried to make herbal tea.


Dandelion flowers

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Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are starting to lose their reputation as just a pesky lawn weed, at least by some anyway. Many store-bought herbal tea blends promote dandelions, and there are a bunch of recipes that call for either dandelion flowers, leaves, or roots.

Dandelion flowers can be used to make herbal teas, the leaves can be added to mixed salads, and the roots can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute.

Dandelions are super nutritious and are packed with vitamins A, C, E, and K, as well as iron, calcium, and potassium.

It would be quite possible to grow your own dandelions, but there is hardly a lawn around that doesn’t have dandelions just waiting to be harvested. Of course, before you go foraging for dandelions, make sure that you know the lawn or area you are picking from and be aware of any chemicals that might have been used.


Source: Epic Gardening/YouTube

Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus) are a joy to grow. Each year, they never fail to astound onlookers with their height, vibrancy, and beauty. Sunflowers have many garden benefits. Aside from being stunning, they act as a deterrent, luring aphids and other pests away from your more delicate garden flora.

Famously, they are a super snack and versatile for making everything from cream cheese to cheesecake crusts. Sunflower seeds are incredibly nutritious and are rich in vitamins E and B6 as well as iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium.

They are very easy to grow and require little gardening know-how! They aren’t too fussy about their soil conditions, and they require very little maintenance. Plant your sunflower seeds about an inch deep in the soil. You can start them indoors and transplant them, or you can direct seed them. If you are going to do transplants, don’t wait too long before you plant them out, as they grow a taproot than can be damaged in the process. True to their name, they love the sun, so make sure you choose a sunny spot for them to thrive.


Lettuce plants

Source: photofarmer/Flickr

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is perhaps a surprising member of the daisy family. It’s probably because when we think of lettuce, we tend to be focusing on its delicious leaves, not the flowers. However, if you have even grown lettuce and let it go to seed, you will be well aware of its tiny daisy-like flowers.

Lettuce comes in so many varieties, so when picking seeds, make sure you find a variety that grows well in your region and, of course, one that you enjoy eating. Lettuce is simple to grow and you could easily be eating salad for months.

Choose a well-draining fertile soil for your lettuce seeds. You can grow lettuce in the garden or try growing it in containers if you are short of space. Lettuce, especially when younger, doesn’t love the heat of the day, so finding a cooler shadier spot for your plants would be a good idea.

Once your lettuce is mature, you don’t need to harvest the whole plant. Just take what you need and leave the plant to produce more and more tasty leaves for your plate.

So, start exploring the wonderful world of the daisy family, and find some fantastic plants that can bring beauty and bounty to your garden.

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