Melampodium leucanthum: Blackfoot daisy

Family: Asteraceae
Common name: Blackfoot daisy, Plains blackfoot, Plains blackfoot daisy

Blackfoot daisies are lovely, non-fussy flowering plants that can be grown in home gardens very easily, on the ground as border plants, or in flower pots. They only grow to a height of 15-30 cms with thin, long leaves that are 2-4 cms long.

During summer and spring, the plant is covered with white or yellow flowers that have prominent petals. Blackfoot daisy flowers have 7-13 ray florets and 30-50 disk florets in the center, which are yellow or orange depending on the variant. In white flowers, the central disk florets are yellow in color. In yellow flowers, the disk florets are deep orange in color.

They are native to areas with rocky, gravelly terrain or rocky slopes with limestone. So the plants need very little water, but they need bright, direct sunlight. These showy ornamental plants can be grown in a cluster, which can transform your garden into a spring paraside.

Lightly fragrant, showy flowers of blackfoot daisy plants will attract bees, insects and ants that will help pollinate these plants. They are clump forming plants with a heavily-branched stem, and hence they should not be planted too close to each other.

Blackfoot daisy plants will also flourish in rock gardens with very little soil. Their low water requirements also makes them ideal for xeriscaping or low-water gardening.

Though they can live without water and fertilization for a long time, though their frequent flowering requires some fertilizers to be added to the soil. After profuse flowering, the plant can be pruned gently to ensure bushy growth and more blooms.

Blackfoot daisy plants have a long bloom period from March to November, especially in warm, tropical countries. If you ensure that the plant has well-drained soil and good sunlight, it will reward you with abundant blooms on a sturdy plant.

Blackfoot daisy plant extracts are shown to have significant anti-cancer effects, which makes the plant valuable as a medicinal species. Mature flowers die and produce abundant seeds, which can be used to propagate the plant, once the parent plant dies.

Propagation is through seeds and stem cuttings.