The Gerbera, or Transvaal Daisy, is an ornamental plant belonging to the sunflower family (Asteraceae). It was named in honor of German botanist Traugott Gerber and originates from the Transvaal region of South Africa.
Some 30 species of Gerbera grow in the wild and they are prevalent in South America, Africa and tropical Asia. The Gerbera is also known as the African Daisy.
The Gerbera has a large head with striking two-lipped ray florets in various colors. The flower heads can be as small as 2cm in diameter (mini) or up to 12cm (Gerbera 'Golden Serena'). The Gerbera has a long stem and no leaves.
The Gerbera is extremely popular and is widely used as a decorative garden plant or as cut flowers, which last for a relatively long period of time. In recent years new Gerbera species have been cultivated which are designed to grow in flowerpots.
The cultivars are mostly crosses between different Gerbera species. There are some 1000 Gerbera cultivars, which vary greatly in shape and size. The range of colors includes hues of yellow, orange, red and pink as well as white. The center of the flower (the "eye") may be red, green, brown or black.
The Gerbera also has commercial significance. It is the fifth most used cut flower in the world (after the rose, carnation, chrysanthemum and tulip). Israeli flower growers produce some 20 million Gerbera flowers each year. Worldwide demand for exported Israeli Gerberas is greatest during the period between October and April.
There are five discernible types of Gerbera flowers, based mainly on the rows of petals and they way in which these are arranged: single, double or duplex, crested doubles, full crested doubles and quilled crested doubles.
Single - single flowers with non-corresponding petals and in most cases, a green center. This is the most common type of Gerbera.
Double/Duplex - this flower has a double row of petals, with the inner row being red, black or
Crested doubles - this flower has two rows of petals, those in the inner row are shorter. The center in this case is also red, black or green.
Full crested doubles - these flowers have two rows of petals as well, with the inner row being shorter, however there is an additional row of small inner petals, which hide the center of the flower from view.
Quilled crested doubles (also known as "spider") - similar to the full crested doubles, however the petals are slightly curled.
Israel Flower Growers Association