|Nipponanthemum nipponicum in mid-October|
At first I thought this generous mound abloom in a neighbour’s garden was a shasta daisy. But, wait. Shasta daisies in October… and, now, November?
And what’s with that distinctive foliage? The whorled form sort of reminded me of Pacific chrysanthemum. Could it be a mum?
Well, I relish an ID challenge. My search revealed these late-season lovelies to be Montauk daisies. Turns out both guesses were on the right track. It has been a shasta daisy and a chrysanthemum in its lifetime – a plant of many names.
The current species name is Nipponanthemum nipponicum, reflecting its Japanese origin. So it won’t surprise that Nippon daisy is also its common name. But past taxonomists have classed it in two camps. While nipponicum stays the same, sometimes you’ll still find its genus listed as Leucanthemum, the shasta daisy family. Sometimes it’s Chrysanthemum. All three are part of the huge Asteraceae or Compositae clan.
|Closeup of same plant, three weeks later|
Botanical names can be crazymaking.
If you have a well-drained, sunny spot and have room for a vigorous late-bloomer, keep your eyes open for this one. Its woody branches can be kept compact by spring pruning and summer pinching. Carol T. Bradford also discusses the plant in her gardening column on Syracuse.com.
An online search doesn’t reveal a Toronto-area source for Montauk or Nippon daisies. If you know of one, we’d like to hear from you.
Or befriend that neighbour one street over. Montauk daisies are said to be easy to root from cuttings.