The Lakeside Daisy (Hymenoxys herbacea) is a federal threatened and state listed endangered species. While its largest natural population grows on the Marblehead Peninsula, it also occurs in two areas of Ontario, Canada.
Lakeside Daisy is the only member of the genus Hymenoxys found east of the Mississippi River. It was first reported from Ohio in 1890 by Clarence M. Weed, who saw the daisy growing on natural limestone plains, in a habitat that had few grasses, flowering plants or trees. The long-lived perennial wildflower grows on nearly barren bedrock, in full sunlight. Each rosette of leaves usually produces a single, six-inch-high, leafless stalk topped with one flower. All flowers in the same population bloom about the same time, usually in early to mid-May. After a week, the double-notched petals fade before falling.
In 1998, the Division of Natural Areas and Preserves acquired 19 acres of abandoned limestone quarry on the Marblehead Peninsula using Ohio state income tax checkoff funding from a local quarry company to protect the Lakeside Daisy. The Colleen “Casey” Taylor and Ruth E. Fiscus State Nature Preserve also harbors 11 other rare plant species, such as rock sandwort, balsam squaw-weed, and Great Plains Ladies’-tresses. It is also home to several more common prairie species, such as spiked blazing-star and stiff goldenrod, which bloom in mid- to late-summer.
The preserve is named for Colleen Taylor, a local citizen who was instrumental in mobilizing statewide support for the protection of the preserve, and Ruth Fiscus of Cleveland Heights, who championed the protection of the Lakeside Daisy for more than 40 years. It is located south of Marblehead, on the east side of Alexander Pike (Township Road 142), 0.5 miles south of State Route 163. When we visited the preserve last Sunday, we picked up an informative brochure about the Lakeside Daisy and its habitat, which was the source of all these Lakeside Daisy facts.
The daisy is also blooming at Lakeside, the community on Lake Erie founded as part of the American Chautauqua movement, where public lectures and entertainment still take place during the summer. While spring cleaning was under way at Lakeside last Sunday to prepare for the 2012 season, we walked along the lake, saw the Lakeside Daisies in bloom at the Lakeside Daisy Garden established in 2001 in memory of Daisy Farley Foster (1879-1959), and picnicked on a bench while enjoying the view.
Although Marblehead Peninsula is the only place in the United States where the Lakeside Daisy can be found growing in the wild, it has been successfully transplanted to many public gardens and arboretums, including the Alvar Rock Garden of the Ohio Heritage Garden at the Governor’s Residence in Bexley.