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Oxeye daisy, or Chrysanthemum leucanthemum, is a flowering plant prevalent in North America, the British Isles and continental Europe. Oxeye daisy grows prolifically throughout the United States, particularly in the American West. Many uses for the plant exist. Practitioners of traditional medicine in Europe and the U.S. use the plant as a cure for various ailments.
Internal ailments treated with oxeye daisy have included whooping cough, night sweats, asthma, nervous afflictions, jaundice, menstrual problems and fevers. For all ailments save fevers, oxeye daisy treatment consisted of eating the leaves and flowers of the plant or, in the British Isles, taking a tonic derived from the plant. For fever, Native American tribes such as the Iroquois and Menominee served tea made from the flowers and leaves of Chrysanthemum leucanthemum. The medicinal use of oxeye daisy predates Christianity. References to the medicinal qualities and uses of the plant appear in Celtic folklore and histories of ancient Greece.
External ailments treated with oxeye daisy have included ulcers, bruises, lacerations, conjunctivitis, dandruff and vaginal yeast infections. Practitioners of traditional medicine used the flowers and leaves of the oxeye daisy to create a wash or poultice. A wash or poultice was applied directly to the external problem for which it was prescribed, much like is done with modern ointments.
Oxeye daisy provides few edible uses, though some eat the plant. In some communities in Italy, the flowers of the oxeye daisy provide a traditional ingredient for salads. The Montana Plant Life website indicates that the roots of the plant prove edible in the spring. In the British Isles, farm animals such as sheep, goats, horses and cows graze on oxeye daisy. The plant reportedly leads dairy cows to produce bitter milk.
The encyclopedic "Field Guide to Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs" warns that oxeye daisy proves irritating to sensitive skin and may cause dermatitis. Do not use the plant in conjunction with members of the same family, Asteraceae, as it increases the risk of allergic reaction.
The states of Colorado, Montana, Ohio, Washington and Wyoming consider oxeye daisy a noxious weed. Ohio goes so far as to prohibit its growth. The plant grows in abundance in open meadows and in some woodland areas. Oxeye daisies bear white flowers with canary yellow centers and the plants reaches a mature height of approximately 7 to 31 inches.