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National flower: The daisy is everywhere thanks to men with mowers

The daisy has been crowned the Netherlands’ national flower. This was revealed on Sunday in the National Flower vote on the Vroege Vogels radio show. Rogier van Vugt, Head of Horticulture at the Hortus botanicus, explains why the daisy merits its elevation to national symbol.

The daisy, the dandelion, the snake’s head fritillary, the cuckoo flower and cow parsley have spent the past few weeks battling for the title of National Flower of the Netherlands. In total over 53,000 votes were cast, with the vast majority going to the daisy. ‘Everyone knows it, which makes it eminently suited to the title of national flower’, says Van Vugt, who was involved in the poll. ‘Loads of people have childhood memories of making daisy chains. It’s a flower that they have taken to their hearts.’

‘What most people call the flower isn’t the flower at all. It’s a composition of 60 to 100 flowers.’

Symbol of collaboration

The daisy wouldn’t be able to grow so easily in the Netherlands in its natural state because it grows in short grass. ‘The daisy benefits from grass that is mown, like lawns, and walked on. It’s thanks to humans that it has become so common.’

What many people do not know is that the daisy flower is incredibly small, about half a millimetre. ‘What most people call the flower isn’t the flower at all’, says Van Vugt. ‘It’s a composition of 60 to 100 flowers. The yellow flowers in the middle are fertile and the outermost flowers grow into white rays. They all work together because they would never be able to attract a pollinator alone. This makes the daisy a wonderful symbol of collaboration too.’

Not the tulip

Nearly every country has a national flower. Austria has edelweiss, Belgium the poppy and Finland the lily of the valley. High time, said Vroege Vogels, for us to choose our own. The tulip was not on the list because it does not grow in the wild and is already the national flower of Turkey and Hungary.

Close up of a daisy

The whole world is a museum

The daisy can serve as a national symbol but Van Vugt hopes the vote will also get people to look at plants differently. ‘It would be great if people gained more respect for a modest flower like the daisy. That’s what the Netherlands needs because the country is suffering from severe plant blindness. People have no idea of the importance of plants when they are the basis of our existence.’

Van Vugt would like to see more appreciation for plants and for them to be seen as more than decor and food alone. ‘Plants are really fantastic. Once you know more about them, the world turns into a museum. That’s something I would wish for everyone.’

Text: Dagmar Aarts
Photo: Pixabay

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