Urospermum dalechampii is known by the common name smooth golden fleece or Mediterranean daisy. It is in the daisy or sunflower family, aka the Asteraceae. A perennial species, it typically reaches 25-40cm (10-15 in.) in height each year. The hermaphroditic flowers are 5 cm (2 in.) wide, and appear between March and August (in its native range). The edible leaves are bitter, but can be used in salads.
This is a widely distributed species, occurring in southern Europe and the Mediterranean from Spain to Dalmatia and northern Africa at elevations ranging from sea level to 1200m (~4000 ft.). Plants can be found along roadsides, grasslands, and neglected places. Urospermum dalechampii can tolerate a variety of soil types, but prefers bright, sunny locations. Germination and growth may be stimulated by fire.
Urospermum dalechampii is classified as a weed in one part of the world: Tasmania (PDF). Community groups in Tasmania help manage populations of Urospermum dalechampii, as it can propagate rapidly after disturbance and is seemingly able to outcompete threatened native species that rely on soil disturbance. Population control measures include removal of outlying plants and creation of buffers around infestations.
The insect perched on the flower in today’s picture is Tettigonia viridissima or a great green bush cricket. It is found in Europe to Mongolia in meadows, grasslands, prairies, and gardens. This species can be identified by its long and thin antennae, which can reach three times the length of its body.