All hail the humble Dandelion

A measure of success can be how many offspring you produce , it can be what areas you colonise. On both these measures we have to admire the success of the Dandelion. Everywhere you look a golden flower or a gossamer ‘clock’ of seeds can be found. They are incredible colonisers they move in quickly. They produce parachuted seeds in huge numbers.

The Dandelion ( Taraxacum officinale) has a composite flower, it is made of hundreds of individual florets. It has a tap root .

All parts of the Dandelion are edible. A few weeks ago I had a bunch of Dandelion leaves in my veg box. These can be eaten as Salad or cooked like spinach ( only if clean no pesticides etc) The roots can be used to make a coffee type drink and the flowers for wine.

Recently I have been reading articles about farming dandelions as a crop, it is easy to grow and adaptable.

Dandelions attract bees,hover flies, beetles and butterflies as a nectar source.

The sap of the Dandelion is white and milky and feels tacky. The sap contains latex. This latex was used as a source of rubber when traditional rubber was unavailable in WWII. Recently the idea of growing Dandelions for rubber has been developed and researched again. The tyre manufacturers Continental made car tyres from a material called taragum from Dandelion latex and won a prize for this development in 2014. The idea is to grow dandelions inside. Rubber tree plantations are a major source of deforestation, maybe Dandelions could be a more sustainable solution.

Dandelion seeds are dispersed by the wind, each seed having a parachute structure.

These clocks form one childhood game , telling the time . Blow the Dandelion clock , the numbers of blows equals the time ! This is not always accurate!

Another story told to children is that if you pick a Dandelion you will wet the bed. This stems from the fact that Dandelion is a diuretic.

The name Dandelion ‘Dent de lion’ translates as tooth of the lion. This name describes the shape of the leaves , like a lions mouth.

Gardeners are not keen on Dandelions as they always seem to be where they are not wanted . They are hard to remove , they grow back from the tap root.

They are a hugely successful and useful plant both as food , rubber ,for nectar and food for herbivores. The pet rabbits love them !

The Dandelion clocks looked beautiful In the evening sun at the lakes ,as do the cows.


One thought on “All hail the humble Dandelion

  1. This is so interesting, I’ve learnt a lot.There seems to be more than ever this year,some fields are so yellow with them,they seem to be in competition with the yellow rape seed fields !

    Like

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