22-28 May 2000

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Photo © Hilton Pond Center

  • Growing most often in open, sunny places, the Ox-eye Daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum) is found across North America. However, there's more to this common wildflower than first meets the eye. Daisies are in the Composite Family (formerly Asteraceae)--a large group that includes sunflowers and other plants whose star-like flower heads are really made up of TWO kinds of flowers. In daisies, the flat, white structures that are often incorrectly called "petals" are really "ray flowers" --specialized structures that are sterile but serve to get the attention of potential pollinators. The daisy's yellow "eye" is made of dozens of fertile "disk flowers," each of which makes one seed. In some composites, ray flowers bear untraviolet markings that are invisible to human eyes but serve to guide bees toward nectar and pollen in the disk flowers.
  • Many kinds of insects are attracted to big, showy composite flowers, and it shouldn't be surprising that things that eat those insects hang out on daisies waiting for lunch to arrive. In the photo above, a young Flower Spider--also called Crab Spider--sits motionless on the flowerhead, its long front legs poised to grab a tiny bee or wasp. As the pollinator alights, the spider quickly clutches its prey and injects a paralyzing toxin with its fangs; the venom also contains digestive enzymes that turn the bee's innards into porridge that the spider sucks back out. Yummy! There are about 200 species of Flower Spiders (Thomisidae) in the United States.
All photos © Hilton Pond Center

Brown Thrasher
(spot-breasted, but not a thrush)

Carolina Wren (fledgling)
(white eye line is brigher in adults)

Yellow-throated Vireo
(our most brightly colored vireo)

Plus the following species not pictured
(or pictured on other weekly pages):

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Northern Waterthrush
Indigo Bunting
Gray Catbird
Northern Cardinal
Downy Woodpecker
Brown-headed Cowbird
Brown Thrasher

All photos © Hilton Pond Center

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Hilton Pond Center for Piedmont Natural History is a non-profit research & education organization in York, South Carolina USA; phone (803) 684-5852. Directed by Bill Hilton Jr., aka The Piedmont Naturalist, it is the parent organization for Operation RubyThroat. Contents of this Web site--including articles and photos--may NOT be duplicated, modified, or used in any way except with the express written permission of Hilton Pond Center. All rights reserved worldwide. To obtain permission for use or for further assistance on accessing this Web site, contact the Webmaster.