Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Native Plant: Seaside Tansy, Sea Ox-eye Daisy

Along waterways all over the coastal plain of North Carolina, seaside tansy (Borrichia frutescens) forms shrubby thickets of gray-green topped in the summer with sunshine yellow.

Plant Facts:
  • Common names are seaside tansy, sea ox-eye daisy, bushy seaside tansy, seaside marigold.
  • Perennial shrub with a mature height of 2 - 3 feet.
  • Spreads by rhizome and seeds.
  • Tolerant of salt spray and occasional salt water flooding.
  • Range is from Virginia to Florida and west to Texas, and in parts of Mexico and the Caribbean.
  • Blooms in July and August in NC with longer bloom time south of here.
  • Nectar plant to butterflies of many types. 

Seaside tansy is widely cultivated, but this patch just showed up by itself along the canal at Ocean Isle Beach, NC.  You can easily start your own crop by saving the seedheads, pulling them apart when dry, and planting them where you want them to grow.  They perform best in full sun but can tolerate some shade.*

I discovered, to my surprise, that this plant has very prickly flower heads.  Don't they look soft like other daisies?  Parts of the central disk flowers are stiff like shrimp shells, and the involucre (click for a diagram) is spiny enough to draw blood!

The leaves are sort of succulent and are covered with white hairs which makes them look quite gray at times.  I like the twiggy stems, all gray with bark; they're unexpected, and one of those things I might not have noticed except for taking a camera outside with me.

In Mexico and parts of the Caribbean, Borrichia has been used as an antidote for poisoning caused by eating certain types of fish.**

~*~

Visit Clay and Limestone for more Wildflower Wednesday posts.

*Natives for Your Neighborhood
**Coastal Plants from Cape Cod to Cape Canaveral, Stucky and Gould, University of North Carolina Press, 2000.