The Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), probably a native of Europe is now a cosmopolitan weed in this country, dismissed by most gardeners as being particularly troublesome when they decide to grow in otherwise well-manicured lawns! This reminds me of the interesting poem, Dandelion, by Jon Silkin:
Slugs nestle where the stem
Broken, bleeds milk.
The flower is eyeless: the sight is compelled
By small, coarse, sharp petals,
Like metal shreds. Formed,
They puncture, irregularly perforate
Their yellow, brutal glare.
And certainly want to
Devour the earth. With an ample movement
They are a foot high, as you look.
And coming back, they take hold
On pert domestic strains.
Others’ lives are theirs. Between then
Grass. They infest its weak land;
Fatten, hide slugs, infestate.
They look like plates; more closely
Life the first tryings, the machines, of nature
Riveted into her, successful.
Far from simply being a weed, dandelions have proved to be useful plants both as salads (leaves) and medicinally (roots). Dandelions are also used to make healing teas, wine and skincare products – by those who have the knowledge to do so. Apparently the buds, flowers and leaves can eaten fresh any time you want a healthy snack!
That is the more serious side of dandelions. What about the irresistible urge so many people – not only little children – feel to blow the puffball of the puffy white dandelion seeds apart?
Like so many people the world over, I believed from early childhood that this was an opportunity to make a wish. Some people are certain that the seeds will carry one’s thoughts and dreams – if that were so then I feel sure there can hardly be a puffball left as we blow them apart in order to connect with our loved ones during this long period of lockdown – thank you COVID-19! Take a moment to watch the video here to see why the seeds float so well: https://www.discovermagazine.com/planet-earth/why-dandelion-seeds-are-so-good-at-floating
Whatever beliefs you may attach to them, there is great visual appeal in watching the parachute-like seeds waft away in the breeze. As dandelions generally thrive in difficult conditions, they are thought to symbolise the ability to rise above life’s challenges – something we all need to work at during this pandemic.