Centratherum punctatum: Larkdaisy

Family: Asteraceae
Common name: Larkdaisy, Brazilian button, Brazilian bachelor’s button, Brazilian button flower, Porcupine flower, Pineapple thistle

Long considered to be an invasive weed, Larkdaisy plants are now very commonly seen in gardens in India. The plants can grow to a height of .5 to 1 meters with green, elliptical leaves having distinct sharp-toothed edges.

The leaves have a very short petiole, is about 2-8 cms long and is dotted with tiny, transparent glands. These small glands give the leaves a distinct aroma when crushed; and also gives the plant the name ‘punctatum’ meaning dotted. They smell faintly like pineapples and hence the name Pineapple thistle.

The stem is well-branched giving the plant a bushy appearance. They can grow horizontally helping the plant spread over a large area. Larkdaisy plants are characterized by dark purple flowers having small, thin, tuft-like petals. The name Centratherum comes from kentron meaning spur, and anthos meaning flowers; denoting the spur-like base of the flowers.

These pretty flowers only have disk florets, and no ray florets; the outer florets are longer than the inner ones. The flowers are single and about 3.5 cms long. Larkdaisy plants also produce tiny brown colored seeds that are 1-2.5 mm long; having a tuft of hair that helps in wind dispersal.

Larkdaisy plants mostly bloom during summer and spring, though they are capable of blooming throughout the year under ideal conditions. They are tropical plants that prefer full sun, well-drained, fertile soil and regular watering.

The beautiful foliage and bright purple flowers make Larkdaisy plants ideal candidates for border plants, hedges and hanging pots. They do not do well as indoor plants since they need good direct sunlight to bloom.

Larkdaisy plants are usually grown as ornamental plants, but they also have some medicinal uses since they have antibacterial, antifungal and antioxidant properties. They are used in treating wounds, in hair and skin care preparations, as a pain killer and also as an antidote again snake bites.

Propagation is through seeds