Brachyscome multifida

Cut-leaf Daisy

Family: Asteraceae

Brachyscome multifida, the Cut-leaf Daisy, is a herbaceous clumping perennial daisy. It develops into a dense, ground covering mound reaching a height of 30 centimetres with a diameter from 20 cm to potentially 1 metre.

It has a large natural distibution in NSW, growing in all subdivisions except for the south coast and tablelands and north far-western plains. It grows north from near Wollongong on the coast of NSW, extending up the coast to near Grafton. It grows north from around Bathurst on the tablelands, extending to aorund Chinchilla in Queensland. It can be found in disjunct patches around Griffith and further north and west towards Mildura. It grows commonly through central Victoria.

It is usually found in dry sclerophyll woodland and forest or open grasslands, on a range of soils.

Brachyscome spp. have alternate and simple leaves with can have intact to strongly divided shapes (pinnatisect). In this species, the foliage is light  to dark green with leaves heavily dissected (pinnatisect) – up to twice divided, to 10 cm long and 8 cm wide, with narrow linear to oblanceolate lobes, to about 40 mm long.

Brachyscome spp. are in the daisy family and therefore produce flowers in an inflorescence called a capitulum (often referred to as a ‘head’). This is an evolved structure where a large number of modified flowers (florets) are grouped together to look like one flower. The Sunflower (*Helianthus annuus) would be the most grandiose example. The ‘petals’ of the capitula are actually ‘ray florets’ which contain a floret hidden inside the elongated ‘petal’ which is actually an extended limb of the corolla tube called a ligule. The disc in the middle of the capitulum (often yellow or orange in colour) consists of very small ‘disc florets’ which have a small 3-5 lobed corolla tube with stamens and a carpel. A frequent associated part of any capitulum is an involucre (overlapping rows) of bracts which typically subtend and surround the floral parts. In this species, the capitula are about 25 mm diameter, produced solitarily on each stalk, to about 30 cm tall, with mauve to purple ray florets and yellow disc florets, typically occurring in spring and summer.

The fruits of many daisies is an achene. In many species, the achene is light-weight, consisting of a thin woody coat surrounded the seed and with a ‘pappus’ of fine hairs or bristles attached (resembling a parachute). In this species, they are about 2.5 mm long brown to black.

In the garden

Brachyscome multifida is small enough to cultivate in most gardens and will make an impact out of all proportion to its size.

Over the years many forms with different flower colours have arrived on the nursery scene. ‘Break o’ Day’ is a popular form with purple flowers. This form is not as vigorous as the original Cut-leaf Daisy.

This species is very useful as a border plant and does a good job of covering up bare ground. One drawback is that they may be short-lived. Typically hardy in full sun to part shade on a well-drained soil.

Plants can be planted about 30 cm apart to form a continuous cover.


Propagation from cuttings is rapid. We often prepare cuttings about 15 centimetres long and place one with other plants when establishing new gardens. We count on about 50% of these pieces taking root.

Other information

The type specimen was collected by Allan Cunningham in the Peel Valley area of central NSW in the mid 1830’s and named by Augustin Pyramus de Candolle (DC), a Swiss botanist.

There is a popular cultivar called ‘Break O Day’.

Currently, two varieties are recognised in NSW:

  • var. multifida: with leaves having narrow-linear lobes – most of the geographic range.
  • var. dilatata: with leaves having broader lobes – occurring mainly in coastal areas

The genus name is spelled Brachycome by some authors. Henri Cassini published the name Brachyscome in 1816, forming it from the classical Greek brachys (βραχύς) (pronounced vrachys) (meaning “short”) and kome (κόμη)(meaning “hair”), a reference to the very short pappus bristles on the achene. Because the combining form of brachys in Greek compound words is brachy-, Cassini later corrected the spelling to Brachycome. Australian taxonomists still debate whether Cassini’s corrected spelling is admissible under the rules of botanical nomenclature. A proposal to conserve Brachycome was rejected in 1993 by the Committee for Spermatophyta. Hence, the spelling remains Brachyscome.

Brachyscome is a genus of about 65 species, occurring in Australia, New Zealand and Papau New Guinea. NSW currently has aorund 60 species.

Likely regenerates from seed after fire.

Brachyscome – from the Greek vrachys (βραχύς), meaning “short” and come (κόμη), a tuft of hairs, referring to the short pappus on the achenes (fruits) of the genus (which is a feature of many Asteraceae members).

multifida – Latin meaning “multiply-divided” – referring to the dissected nature of the leaves.

This species is not considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.

NSW Flora Online (PlantNET) – Brachyscome multifida profile page https://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/NSWfl.pl?page=nswfl&lvl=sp&name=Brachyscome~multifida

Wrigley, J.W. & Fagg, M.I. (2001). Australian Native Plants – Propagation, cultivation and use in landscaping. 4th edition. New Holland Publishers, Pty. Ltd. Australia.

Gardening with Angus – Brachyscome multifida ‘Break O Day’ profile page https://www.gardeningwithangus.com.au/brachyscome-breakoday-native-daisy/

By Warren and Gloria Sheather. Editing and additional text by Dan Clarke.