Plant Nature Study I by Various Plant Nature Study I by Various    

Lesson 19: White and Yellow Cousins (Composite Flowers)

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Bubbling Bob the Bobolink poured out the joy which filled his heart as he mounted in the air and then dropped down out of sight in the grass of the Green Meadows. No one could hear that rollicking song and not know that Bubbling Bob was as happy as a bird could be. Peter, watching him from the edge of the dear Old Briar-patch, knew the cause of that happiness. He knew that somewhere safely hidden in the grass Bubbling Bob had a nest, and that he was singing to the little brown-cloaked mate who was sitting on the eggs in that nest.

Every spring Bubbling Bob and his mate nested not far from the dear Old Briar-patch, and every spring so far Peter had wasted much time looking for that nest. He and Bubbling Bob were the best of friends, but a nest is a secret not to be shared with anyone, and so Bubbling Bob had watched Peter hunt and hunt, and instead of telling him where that nest was had led him far from it. This spring Peter had been too much interested in hunting for flowers to be even curious about nests. But now as he listened to Bubbling Bob, the old curiosity became too much for him. He had nothing special to do, so to while away the time he decided he would once more try to find out Bubbling Bob's secret.

He had seen just where Bubbling Bob had dropped down in the grass, so straight for that point Peter scampered. Just before he reached it Bubbling Bob flew up, singing as before. He pretended not to notice Peter. Peter squatted down in the grass and watched him. When Bubbling Bob had finished his song he flew down in the grass again, but this time at a different place. Peter hastily looked about the place where Bubbling Bob had mounted into the air, and finding no nest, scampered straight over to where Bubbling Bob had disappeared. Again Bubbling Bob took to the air and again Peter hunted in vain. And so Bubbling Bob led Peter hither, thither and yon, farther and farther out on the Green Meadows.

At last Peter grew tired and sat down to rest. Then it was that a little way from him he saw something white just above the grass. Bubbling Bob and his nest were forgotten as Peter hurried over there.

"I knew it! I knew it!" cried Peter happily as he drew near. "It is the first Daisy. How I love the Daisies!"

Peter was right. It was the first White Daisy. No one could mistake it for any other flower. It was a sort of pledge that summer would soon replace gentle Mistress Spring, for it is only as Mistress Spring is preparing to leave that the Daisies begin to bloom.

Peter hopped close to that lone Daisy, for he was seeing it with new eyes. That is, he was seeing it for the first time as a Daisy really is. He admired the round center of pure gold and the pure white of the many petal-like parts surrounding it. Such a cheery blossom as it was. How pure and innocent it looked.

"I know you now," said Peter, talking to the Daisy as if it could understand. "I know you now. Once I would have thought you just a single blossom, but now I know better. You are like the Dandelion, a composite flower. That is, you are not just one flower, but a lot of flowers growing all together so as to look like one."

"My, my, how wise we are," said a voice right behind Peter.

Peter turned hastily to find Johnny Chuck grinning at him. "No," said Peter, "I am not wise, but I am wiser than I was. I am learning every day. Isn't this Daisy beautiful, Johnny?"

"I suppose it is if you say so," replied Johnny Chuck carelessly. "It would look a lot more beautiful to me if it were good eating. Even Farmer Brown's cows don't like it and won't eat it. If things are not good to eat what are they good for?"

"To look at," replied Peter promptly. "I guess the Great World needs beautiful things to look at just as much as it does things to eat."

Just then a little Bee alighted on the Daisy and greedily began to load itself with yellow pollen. A Butterfly took the place of the Bee as the latter left and began to feast on nectar.

"There," said Peter triumphantly, "it may not furnish you or me any food, Johnny Chuck, but it supplies food for others. Here comes another Bee."

It was so. While Peter sat there half a dozen kinds of insects visited the Daisy, and none went away empty. So Peter discovered for himself that the White Daisy is not so useless as Johnny Chuck thought.

It is true that from man's point of view its only use is to please the eye. In fact, the White Daisy has become a pest so that it is often called the Whiteweed. Sometimes it is called the Oxeye Daisy. Strangely enough it is a member of the Thistle family. Were it not so common that it often makes the meadows white in June it would be found in everyone's garden. As it is man tries to get rid of it instead of cultivating it. The reason that it increases so fast and spreads everywhere is that it attracts so many insects. They in turn pay for the bounty it furnishes them by carrying the pollen from one blossom to another. This means that each plant will bear many strong, vigorous seeds, and the more seeds of course the more plants.

On his way back to the dear Old Briar-patch Peter had another surprise. This time it was a cousin of the Daisy he had just left. But it was very different. In form it was similar, for of course it, too, was a composite flower. Around a large center grew many so-called petals, but instead of being pure white these were bright orange-yellow. Looking closely at these, Peter discovered that each had a tiny notch in the end of it.

Instead of surrounding a golden center these grew out from around the base of a cone-shaped center of a rich purple-brown color, and the flower heads were much larger than the White Daisy. It was the Black-eyed Susan, which also has several other names, including Coneflower, Yellow Daisy and Oxeye Daisy. This latter name is rather confusing because in many parts of the country the White Daisy is given this name, as you already know.

Had Peter had eyes for anything but the flowers he would have seen that there was quite a difference in the appearance of the leaves of the two cousins. The leaves of the White Daisy are much divided and cut into teeth, while those of the Black-eyed Susan are long, narrow, pointed, with the edges slightly cut. Both stems and leaves are hairy.

There were several of the Black-eyed Susans open, and Peter discovered that some had twice as many petal-like parts as others. Had Peter pulled one of these off he would have discovered that it really was a little floret, which means tiny flower. He would not, however, have found any stamens carrying the yellow dust called pollen or any pistil. The pollen is in the tiny flowers or florets packed together to form the center, and these florets are in the shape of little tubes with tops spreading into five points. They also have pistils or seed-bearing parts.

Thus the Daisy blossom is made up not only of a great many very tiny flowers, but of two kinds. The same thing is true of the Black-eyed Susan and other composites. Composite is a big word, but it simply means made up of many parts. I guess you can remember that if Peter Rabbit can. The insects and Butterflies love the Black-eyed Susan just as they do the White Daisy, but it is not loved by the farmer, for his cattle will not eat it. Here are two flowers which may be picked as freely as desired. In fact, the more are picked the better, for beautiful as they are there are altogether too many, and they are constantly spreading.

    Plant Nature Study I by Various Plant Nature Study I by Various    

Lesson 19: White and Yellow Cousins (Composite Flowers)


Study the lesson for one week.

Over the week:

  • Read the story.
  • Review the synopsis.
  • Recite aloud the vocabulary words and their definitions.
  • Learn the concepts.
  • Complete the enrichment activities.
  • Study the review questions.


As Peter follows Bubbling Bob the Bobolink in a futile attempt to find Bob's nest, he sees the first White Daisy of the year. Pure white petals surround a golden sun. Like the Dandelion, the Daisy is a composite flower. Although Johnny Chuck isn't much interested in eating the Daisy, the bees and butterflies feed on its nectar, carrying pollen in return. Next, Peter finds a cousin of the Daisy, the Black-eyed Susan. Also a composite flower, the Black-eyed Susan has golden, notched petals and a brown center.


Bobolink: An American migratory songbird, resembling a blackbird with the bill of a finch.
Composite: Made up of multiple components.
Ray Floret: Any of a number of strap-shaped and typically sterile florets that form the ray.
Disk Floret: Any of a number of small, tubular, and usually fertile florets that form the disk.


Composite Flowers:

  1. The Daisy and the Black-eyed Susan are composite flowers.
  2. A composite flower looks like a single flower but is actually made up of many flowers.
  3. Each flower may look like a tiny disk in the center (Disk Floret - A) or a single petal (Ray Floret - B).


Activity 1: Narrate the Story

  • After reading or listening to the story, narrate the story events aloud using your own words.

Activity 2: Can You Find It?

Review the following flower parts on the diagram of the composite flower:

  • Ray Floret
  • Disk Floret
  • Stem

Activity 3: Continue Your Experiment - Which Amount of Light is Best for Beans?

  • Continue to water the seeds. Keep the soil damp over the duration of the experiment.
  • Complete your second week of observations of the bean seeds.
  • Which seeds have growing well? Which seeds are doing poorly?
  • Use the gathered information to create a final field book entry on your experiment.

Activity 4: Complete a Field Book Entry   

As you conduct your experiment, complete page 24 in 'Science Field Book for Third Grade.'


Question 1

What type of flower is the Daisy?
1 / 4

Answer 1

The Daisy is a composite flower.
1 / 4

Question 2

What is a composite flower?
2 / 4

Answer 2

A composite flower looks like a single flower but is actually made of many tiny flowers.
2 / 4

Question 3

What are the two types of florets in a composite flower?
3 / 4

Answer 3

The two types of florets in a composite flower are the ray floret and the disk floret.
3 / 4

Question 4

How can you tell a Daisy from a Black-eyed Susan?
4 / 4

Answer 4

A Daisy has white petals and a yellow center. The Black-eyed Susan has yellow petals and a brown center.
4 / 4

  1. What type of flower is the Daisy? The Daisy is a composite flower.
  2. What is a composite flower? A composite flower looks like a single flower but is actually made of many tiny flowers.
  3. What are the two types of florets in a composite flower? The two types of florets in a composite flower are the ray floret and the disk floret.
  4. How can you tell a Daisy from a Black-eyed Susan? A Daisy has white petals and a yellow center. The Black-eyed Susan has yellow petals and a brown center.


  1. Burgess, Thornton. Burgess Flower Book for Children. Ithaca, Boston, Massachusetts. Little, Brown, and Company, 1923.
  2. Comstock, Anna Botsford and Gordon, Eva L., Handbook of nature-study (Twenty-fourth edition). Ithaca, New York Comstock Publishing Company, Inc, 1911.