Baileya multiradiata, the desert marigold or paper daisy, is from the aster family and is native to the United States. It is a showy flower that is long lasting in bloom but a short-lived perennial.
Marigold comes from the Anglo-Saxon and has been associated historically with the Virgin Mary. The name has always been seen as a derivative of the words “Mary’s gold”. It is a good plant to use in religious gardening and Mary gardens.
The “Baileya” part of the botanical name comes from Jacob Whitman Bailey, a botanist. “Multiradiata” was picked to signify and classify that the flower has profuse ray flowers (multi-ray) in the flower head.
The flowers are yellow and grow on almost leafless stems. Leaves are wooly and gray, the hair helping to reflect UV rays. Blooms are like daisies that turn papery as they mature, hence why it is called the paper daisy. It tends to flower throughout summer and fall and can be seen along roadsides in the desert. It grows 10 to 30 inches tall with 1 to 2 inch wide flower blooms.
Hairs on leaves or stems are common in the desert as they are able to increase the light reflection. This means that there is lower leaf temperatures to deal with, a great adaptation technique for plants in the desert.
Growth of the desert marigold should be in partial shade in dry, sandy or gravelly, soils. The heat and poor soil is perfect for this plant. It needs little water to survive. The gardener can use this as an ornamental plant to bring butterflies into the landscape; however it will also attract insects and bees to the nectar as well.
To propagate the Baileya multiradiata one must use seed. Plant seeds ¼ inch deep into the soil in the autumn season. There should be many sown as their germination can be erratic. The seed is commercially available to be bought.
The desert marigold is a common occurrence in the 100 to 6500 feet elevations of the desert. Some of the locations that have documented occurrences of the flower include the Mojave Desert, the Chihuahuan Desert, Mexico, southern Arizona, southern Nevada, and SW Utah.
Desert marigold has had compounded extracted (radiatin, baileyolin, and fastiglin) by researchers at Arizona State University in hopes that they can be used in cancer therapy. They are looking into the desert marigold’s use as a possible tumor inhibitor.
Form: herbaceous perennial; sprawling groundcover; self sows Seasonality: perennial Size: 1ft tall, 2ft across Leaves: alternate, deeply lobed, silverish, woolly; leaves low on thick stems Flowers: bright yellow, solitary, to 2in across born on stalks held above foliage; petals fade leaving distinctive large button; bloom in early spring through mid summer Fruit: large amount of seed in flower button Stems/Trunks: n/a Range/Origin: large range, all of Western US and Mexico in elevations below 5000ft Hardiness: damaged below 32°F
native flower mixes
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Exposure: full sun, reflected heat
Water: natural rainfall, drought tolerant; give some water during long dry spells
Soil: tolerant, good drainage
Propagation: seeds, best when gathered in fall, germination weak at other times of year
Maintenance: remove spent flowers before heat
NOTES: thrives in disturbed areas rapid grower when given water