Dayflower (Commelina communis; C. diffusa; C. erecta; C. africana aka Yellow Commelina) is a plentiful, hardy plant that is easily found in flower beds and anywhere else you probably don’t want them in spring, late summer, and fall. Dayflower is not the highest in vitamins and minerals, but I still find it useful to know about ALL the plants that can be eaten. They like shade, partial sun, woods, fields, and landscaping areas. They are abundant in my own backyard which is heavily shaded by large oak trees, so of course I took an interest in them.
SIDE NOTE: I have really gotten into edible plants lately, what with the crazy weather and my own war against gophers who destroy and eat anything I plant in the ground. People may think I am weird, but to me, learning about alternate ways of feeding yourself when SHTF is vital. This year especially with the excess rain in my area, EVERYONE’S garden is suffering. I know other people in different parts of the world are dealing with drought, and hear “too much rain” and scoff, but too much or too little of a good thing is bad. Thankfully, the natural world and the plants that grow without the help of man tend to be hardier, making it harder to kill them when the weather isn’t ideal. So if you know what is edible, you won’t go hungry when agriculture fails. Okay, enough of that. Back to Dayflower.
Flowers, leaves, and stems are used, but generally only the newest growth, as Dayflower can be pretty tough. Flowers and leaves can be eaten raw or cooked, but it is better to cook or steam the stems before eating. Roots should be boiled.
FUN FACT: The normally blue stamen hairs on Dayflower indicate mutation by turning pink when exposed to radiation. The same effect has been observed when the Spiderwort plant is subjected to chemical pollution. I have recently found Spiderwort in my yard, so be on the look out for that in my backlog of all things plants.
Dayflower stems are generally thin and cannot hold the plants weight, so they lay over onto the ground unless given something to lean on. (C. erecta however does grow upright, hence the name) In the morning, blue, two-petal flowers come out of a green, beak-like structure that opens at the ends of stems with heart-shaped leaves. Non-flower leaves will be about 3″ long and narrow. You will need to harvest in the morning, as the flowers close at solar-noon. The tough leaves have a parallel vein structure and join to the stem with a sheath which runs down the stem about 1/4 inch.
Communis-wide spread, common.
Diffusa-spreading, all three petals are about the same size. Bottom is still slightly smaller. Pretty sure this is what I have in my yard
Erecta-grows upright. Bottom petal is small and white with 2 larger petals sticking up like mouse ears.
Dayflower, considered by most people to be a weed, shows up in spring and grows through the summer and fall. It only dies back when hard frost hits. If you are weeding the garden or flower beds, don’t just toss Dayflower to the side. This hardy little plant will take root and begin to flourish wherever it lands. It prefers average, medium moisture and well-drained soil on the acidic side, but does tolerate poor soil.
Dayflowers are more tender than Spiderworts, which are similar in looks, but still tough. You may want to only use the top, newest growth that is still tender. Dayflower can be thrown into salads or into cooked dishes. If adding to a stew or other dish that will cook for a longer amount of time than normal, you can use more of the plant, since it will break down during the long cook time. The stems contain slime, but not enough to act as a thickener when used in soups and stews.
I have not found anything on medicinal uses for Dayflower, but again, it is good to know what you can eat if you need to. If you know of any medicinal uses for this little lady, leave a comment and let us know!
I used foragingtexas.com for some information, but you can also find great pictures there with measurements and Dayflowers at different times of the day.
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