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Flowers

Berlandiera Lyrata, The Chocolate Flower


12 min read

Berlandiera lyrata, also known as a chocolate flower, lyreleaf greeneyes, or chocolate daisy, is a beautiful daisy-like yellow flower that has a chocolate odor when it blooms. Native to North America, specifically the southwest United States and Mexico, this flower prefers dry sandy loams and rocky limestone soils. This makes it an excellent choice for rock gardens or a native wildflower meadow recreation in your pollinator garden. 

Once established, this native perennial is tolerant of drought, and will reward you by attracting bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to your garden. Keep lyreleaf greeneyes well watered during its first year of growth, after that, it will survive on very little extra water. 

This leafy plant has many short branches at its base leading to leafless stalks topped by flower heads, blooming yellow rays surrounding a maroon central disk. This disk will turn green as the flower fades and eventually hold the seed for the next generation of flowers. 

Not only is this flower easy to grow, but it’s also easy to propagate by collecting seed from the spent flower head. The flowers bloom profusely throughout the late spring and up until the first hard frost in fall. In areas with mild climates and warm weather for most of the season, they can have a year-round bloom time. 

In areas that receive a frost the plant will die back and come back to life in the spring. You can leave the last round of flowers with yellow rays standing to serve as a snack for birds who love to feast on their seeds. 

Quick Care Guide

Chocolate daisy
Chocolate daisy is another name for this lovely flower. Source: jerryoldenettel
Common NameChocolate daisy, chocolate flower, lyre leaf green eyes, green-eyed lyre leaf
Scientific NameBerlandiera lyrata
FamilyAsteraceae
Height & Spread1-2 feet tall and wide
LightFull sun to light shade
SoilAverage well-drained soils
WaterDrought tolerant
Pests & DiseasesRoot rot, no major pest issues

All About The Chocolate Daisy

Lyreleaf greeneyes
Lyreleaf greeneyes is an interesting name for this plant. Source: flora.mania

Chocolate flower, the Berlandiera lyrata common name, is a beautiful daisy-like flower to add to your garden. The genus name honors Jean-Louis Berlandier, a French-Swiss physician who collected plants in northern Mexico and Texas in the early 1800s. 

Berlandiera lyrata common names also include: chocolate daisy, lyreleaf greeneyes, and green eyed lyre leaf. The scientific name, therefore, honors Jean Louis Berlandier, and the common name honors the leaf shape and scent of the plant. In its native habitat, it can be found growing in parts of the Southwestern United States including Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Its habitat even stretches into parts of Northern Mexico.

These flowers are perennial and thus will come back year after year making them a great long-term investment for establishing a pollinator garden. As the name chocolate daisy would suggest, they resemble daisies with yellow rays surrounding a central disk. Most notably, they are called chocolate because they smell like it when they bloom! 

The flower petals are edible and are said to have a bitter chocolatey flavor. Some Native American cultures of Texas, New Mexico, and the American southwest collected plants, and these daisies were used by them to alleviate stomach issues. The dried roots were burned to inspire courage. Aside from their odor, the main benefit of adding them to your garden is to provide habitat and food for pollinators. 

Attracting pollinators to your garden has many benefits including predatory insects that will feed on pests. Bees, butterflies, and even hummingbirds are attracted to them. Since they bloom throughout the season they provide a food source while other sources may be scarce like during the early spring and late fall.  

Berlandiera Lyrata Care

Side view of Berlandiera lyrata
A side view of Berlandiera lyrata. Source: ejmc

This North America native, low-maintenance, pollinator plant is a stunner in any garden or landscape. If you’re interested in adding these flowers to your garden, then read on to learn how to properly care for Berlandiera lyrata. 

Sun and Temperature

Chocolate daisies – the Berlandiera lyrata common name – do best in full sun conditions though they will tolerate light shade. To meet the full sun requirements you will need to choose a planting site in your garden that receives at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day. In hotter climates, sun from early to mid morning is best.

They prefer warm weather with their ideal temperature range between 70-75 degrees. Though they can survive the heat of the summer in full sun as well, blooms may be limited during times of intense heat. In these areas shield them from hard afternoon sun, and ensure they receive morning sun. In full shade conditions, they will not bloom their yellow rays as well and after all, we’re growing this plant for its fragrant flowers with a lovely chocolate scent! 

These daisies can be reliably grown in USDA zones 4-9. The daisy seeds germinate more readily when they go through a period of cold stratification. For this reason this plant usually does best in areas with a cold winter. However, it can also be grown in frost-free areas where it will bloom year-round. 

These flowers are frost-hardy, but eventually, growth will slow and flowers bloom and go to seed and die back. Leave the last round of flower heads to provide food for birds over the winter. In the spring, cut back the plant to a height of 6 inches before the appearance of new growth. 

Water and Humidity

As with most outdoor plants it’s best to water in the mid-morning or late afternoon, anytime outside of the heat of the day. This will ensure that more moisture soaks into the ground rather than being lost to evaporation. You’ll want to keep this plant regularly watered throughout its first growing season. 

Once a daisy is established it is extremely drought-tolerant.Overwatering or poorly draining soils can cause it to become leggy. It’s better to let the plants dry out between waterings rather than risk watering them too much. Once they are fully established (3 seasons after planting) they can be watered as little as once every 1-2 weeks in the height of summer and as little as once every 2-4 weeks in the spring and fall. 

Drip irrigation emitters are a great low-maintenance way to water your plants. In addition to their drought tolerance, they also prefer hot and dry weather. This makes sense considering their native range runs through the southwest including states like Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Northern Mexico. 

Soil

Berlandiera lyrata with butterfly
Berlandiera lyrata with a butterfly. Source: harefoot1066

Another benefit of growing these daisies is that they can be planted in a variety of soil types. They are native to dry sandy loams and rocky limestone soils, making them great for rock gardens and areas with dry soil. They actually prefer what is usually considered to be poor-quality soil and struggle with rich soil that has been amended. 

The only caveat is that they must be planted in well-drained soils. As mentioned above, wet soils can cause this plant to become leggy and flop over. Because of its drought-tolerant nature, they prefer dry soil with very little water. Since this plant prefers rocky soils over wet soils you can mulch around your daisies with gravel or small rocks to encourage reseeding. 

Fertilizing Berlandiera Lyrata

So many plants in the garden can benefit from supplemental fertilizers, organic matter, or compost. That being said, these are not one of them. They are very light feeders and fertilizing isn’t necessary. In fact, rich garden soil can have the opposite effect as it can hold onto too much moisture which these flowers do not like. 

This is great news for those who are looking to add to their low-maintenance, low-water, wildflower meadow pollinator garden. Barely requires water? No fertilizer required? Flowers profusely? Attracts butterflies and other pollinators? Chocolate odor? Sign me up! 

Pruning Lyreleaf Greeneyes

This plant can benefit from regular pruning. Deadheading the spent flowers will encourage even more flowers. Simply remove the flower head at its base. At the end of the season, the green cup-like bracts will be full of seeds. They can be left standing in the garden to provide birds with seed throughout the winter. 

In the very early spring or late winter, the plant can be cut back to within 6 inches of the ground, before late spring growth appears. In mild climates and frost-free areas, the flowers will continue blooming year-round and will only require deadheading. 

Lyreleaf Greeneyes Propagation

As mentioned above as the flowers fade the petals close and they will be replaced by green cup-like bracts. This green eye is why these flowers are sometimes referred to as lyre leaf green eyes or green eyes lyre leaf. This green disc shape will eventually be filled with seeds. 

At the end of the season, the cup-like seedheads can be easily collected if you’d like to encourage even more flowers to grow next season, or you can allow them to bloom year-round in milder climates. Propagation via seed is the best method for this daisy plant. These seeds do not require cold stratification, however, it has been said to increase their germination rate. 

They can be started indoors, but do not like being transplanted so it’s best to sow them at the planting site, directly in the garden. Sprinkle the seeds over the surface and cover them with a light dusting of soil. Keep it evenly moist until seedlings emerge. 

Troubleshooting Lyreleaf Greeneyes

Berlandiera lyrata flowers
Berlandiera lyrata flowers. Source: jerryoldenettel

A big draw to growing these flowers is the relatively ease of meeting its growing requirements. There are, however, a few things to keep in mind for the best results. 

Growing Problems

These blooms are relatively trouble-free, however, the most important thing to keep in mind is meeting the water requirements. In its native habitat in North America, it is very drought tolerant once established. For this reason, it does not tolerate overly moist soils and can grow tall, spindly, and leggy when it receives too much water. 

Of course, you can’t control the weather outside so a good countermeasure is to ensure it’s planted in an area with well-drained soil to avoid standing water or overly wet conditions. If your daisy plants begin to grow leggy they can be pruned back to encourage bushier growth. To avoid overwatering, let the top few inches of soil dry out between waterings. 

Pests

These daisy plants have no known pest issues! Another win for this amazingly easy-to-grow native pollinator plant! 

Diseases of Lyreleaf Greeneyes

Root rot is the main disease that can affect your daisy plants. The symptoms of root rot will appear as a soft mushy stem, wilting, and of course rotten roots. This type of rot is harder to recover from but can be remedied if there are still fresh, white roots on the plant that have not yet turned to mush. 

Reduce the frequency of watering your plants, and let the garden soil dry completely before watering again. A good preventative measure to avoid root rot is by placing it in a very well-drained location. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Chocolate flower
The chocolate flower provides a pop of color in the garden. Source: Puzzler4879

Q: Are Berlandiera lyrata edible?

A: Yes! In fact, it’s called chocolate daisy because the blooms of this plant are edible and have been said to taste like bitter or unsweetened chocolate. Some Native American cultures used these daisies to alleviate stomach issues and burned the dried roots to inspire courage. 

Q: Are chocolate flowers poisonous?

A: No, this plant is not poisonous. 

Q: Do chocolate flowers spread?

A: They can re-seed and spread year after year. 

Q: Is chocolate flower a perennial?

A: Yes it is a perennial plant in USDA zones 4-9. 

Q: How long do chocolate flowers last?

A: They have a very long bloom time and can bloom in the garden from spring until the first frost in fall.

Q: Are chocolate daisies deer resistant?

A: Yes, not only are they native, but they are considered to be deer resistant. 

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