If you've ever found yourself on a roadside or wildflower meadow in the Southwest, you may have seen a flurry of cheerful yellow flowers peeking up at you. This isn't an uncommon sight; wildflowers abound in the countryside of the United States. However, if you ever lean down and take a whiff, you'll notice something special about these unassuming but pretty flowers- the Berlandiera lyrata smell a bit like grandma's chocolate cookies!
The Chocolate Daisy
This chocolate-scented flower is best known as the chocolate daisy, its common name. We're used to the floral, delicate scent of flowers like roses, lilacs and lavender, but what could be better than flowers that smell like chocolate? The chocolate flower, or lyre-leaf greeneyes has soft velvet leaves. This perennial usually grows to 1 to 2 feet tall, and it has many small branches leading up to the top. You can especially smell a chocolate scent when you pluck the petals from the flower head, and the aroma is strongest in early to mid morning.
The Berlandiera lyrata's flower head has petals like yellow rays, with a maroon center. The flower top is about 2 inches across. These chocolate-scented yellow daisy open to greet the day every morning, drooping in the heat of the day (which is pretty darn hot in the Southwest!). After they die, the chocolate daisy has a seedhead- picture the white fluffy dandelion heads you blow on to make a wish. The seedhead serves to spread the flower's seeds far and wide, ensuring that more will bloom next year.
The Berlandiera lyrata is named after Jean-Louis Berlandier, a French-Swiss physician who worked with plants in northern Mexico and Texas in the 1800s. This whimsical wildflower can be found on sandy loams, rocky limestone soils, mesas, plains, grasslands, and roadsides in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and Mexico. The chocolate daisy's bloom time is at night from late spring to frost, but in areas with no frost it will bloom year round.
Grow Your Own Berlandiera Lyrata
If you're intrigued by this chocolate scented daisy, it's not too difficult to grow your own! The Berlandiera lyrata thrives in dry to medium well-drained soil in full sun. While some shade is okay, it won't do well in fully shaded areas. It's important not to let your soil get too moist, as this can causes root rot.
The berlandiera lyrata does fine in heat and drought, so you'll be successful no matter how hot or dry it is! It's best not to divide your plants, because the daisy's long taproot is what helps it to be drought tolerant. The chocolate daisy grows well from seed, and may self-seed in your garden. Make a rock garden for a rustic look, and you can pretend like you're in the far reaches of North America, in the desert of New Mexico or Texas. Most importantly, you can enjoy the yummy scent of chocolate whenever you like!