This post is a humble gift to my oldest friend, Rosemary, on her birthday. Dandelions may not be roses or a bouquet of Australian natives, but they are beautiful and they thrive. May such thriving be yours, my very dear friend. Beauty, in so many ways, already is.

In Australia, I’ve always seen dandelions as a rather undistinguished weed. In Warsaw they have been a major pleasure of spring. I’ve watched them waking up in the morning, reaching full splendour as the day moves on, and falling asleep in the afternoon, whole meadows of them flourishing before the lawn mowers get to work. Now, as they seed, they have become that most delicate of things, dandelion clocks. 

This morning I saw a woman with a box in Park Morskie Oko collecting dandelions as assiduously as I was photographing them. I discover what I didn’t know before: they are edible. You can sauté the leaves like spinach; eat them raw in salads or boil them; use the flower petals combined with citrus to make dandelion wine; or roast their roots for caffeine free dandelion coffee. Leaves and buds are part of traditional Kashmiri, Slovenian, Sephardic, Chinese, and Korean cuisine; the leaves contain vitamins A, C, and K, and are good sources of calcium, potassium, iron, and manganese; in herbal medicine they are used as a diuretic and to treat infections and bile and liver problems. Such versatility can’t be ignored.

Richard Mabey’s “Food for free” (thank you Tish, for introducing me to this writer) offers a number of recipes. The simplest suggests adding leaves to a sandwich with a dash of Worcestershire sauce. He quotes a 19th century French chef, Marcel Boulestin, who recommends “a salad made from equal quantities of dandelion ‘hearts’ (unopened flower-buds plus young surrounding leaves) and chopped beetroot.” I’ll wait for their resurrection and maybe harvest and cook – after an extremely thorough wash: I’ve seen dogs in action in the dandelion fields.

As befits a common and prolific plant that’s been around for 30 million years, dandelions have many names. The English name, dandelion, is a corruption of the French “dent de lion” meaning “lion’s tooth”, referring to the coarsely toothed leaves. They are also known as blowball, cankerwort, doon-head-clock, witch’s gowan, milk witch, yellow-gowan, Irish daisy, monks-head, priest’s-crown, puff-ball, faceclock,  wet-a-bed, swine’s snout, and wild endive. Different attributes are acknowledged in the names in different languages. In Swedish, they’re called worm rose after the small insects usually present in the flowers  In Finnish and Estonian, the names translate as butter flower because of their colour. Their  Lithuanian name means milky, referring to the white liquid that is produced when the stems are cut. 

The dandelion lawns have been mowed, and now there are only “poor dead dandelions”. Birds have been deprived of many dietary pleasures, although I saw a murder of crows pecking away with some eagerness on the shaved grass.

After all these encounters with dandelions, visual, medicinal, culinary, I’ll never look down my nose at a dandelion again.

Thank you to Wikipedia for information, Snapseed for its image-sharpening capacities, Richard Mabey for recipes and Jude for the inspiration and excuse to record my life as a dandelion devotee.

  For more wildflowers, have a look at Jude’s Wildflowers in May posts.

About morselsandscraps

A retired Australian who spends a lot of time in Warsaw, and blogs as a way of life.
This entry was posted in challenge, flowers, photos and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Dandelions

  1. Lucid Gypsy says:

    I’m fond of them too, but I wouldn’t want them to rule the world. Having said that, maybe with their abundance they are trying to tell us something, take advantage of our amazing properties!


  2. Heyjude says:

    Your last three clocks are incredible! Snapseed eh? I wouldn’t fancy eating them myself (worms in the flowers?) (and I do have several dog-free plants available) and the root ‘coffee’ is not in the least appealing. I remember that chicory coffee in a bottle from my childhood – yuk! As for their medicinal properties, especially acting as a diuretic, I suspect that’s where we get the old wives tale about not sniffing a dandelion because it will make you wet the bed 🙂

    I’m sure your friend will love this birthday post!


  3. Becky B says:

    Yesterday I was watching Goldfinches thoroughly enjoy the seeds. They perched on the head so it bowed down making it much easier for them to partake of the whole clock!
    Wonderful to watch and time just ticked away 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Rosemary Barnard says:

    I love this post for the sensitive way you reveal the exquisite beauty of this usually ignored plant, frame by frame, in single blooms and in drifts. Wet-a-bed is the English version of the French pis- en-lit for this plant, so yes, I reckon it must indeed have diuretic properties. I have known for many years that the leaves can be used in salads, so dandelions seem seriously useful too, apart from their beauty. Thank you Meg for this special birthday present of revelation.


  5. restlessjo says:

    What a lovely birthday present! Wish Rosemary a great year ahead from me, please 🙂
    For me it’s the first and second last of your ‘clocks’ that I drool over (not a pretty sight- cross-eyed when i drool 🙂 ). I was all set to go with the salad leaves and Worcester sauce when the doggy-dos came into the discussion 😦 And now, as I just said to Jude, I really must go and start a walk for tomorrow.


    • Rosemary Barnard says:

      Thank you Jo. I am so glad that you had the chance to meet up with Meg. She has been my closest friend since we were eight years old and the parts of my life I have shared with her are something I really treasure. I loved your post about her and especially the photos. She is indeed a very special person in so many ways. While rejoicing with her about the opportunities this extended stay in Poland offers, I am counting the months remaining until she returns to Australia. Already we have both got our thinking caps on about where we will go on our next jaunt.


      • restlessjo says:

        Thank you so much for this, Rosemary 🙂 I’ve often seen your comments on here, but never come to ‘meet’ you too. The time will fly! Stay healthy and happy 🙂


  6. DailyMusings says:

    what beautiful photos of dandelions!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. pommepal says:

    A delightful post and a great birthday present for your friend Rosemary. So much interesting information too. Jack always refers to them as pee-the-bed as that is what his Mother always called them.


  8. findingnyc says:

    I’ve always loved dandelions. I can remember my father trying to get rid of them from our yard and garden, but my sister and I could find so many imaginative uses for them as children. Thanks for bringing back so many wonderful memories with your blog post!


    • I’m glad the post was evocative for you. I’m thinking of a dandelion anthology via blog contributions. Would you be interested in elaborating your dandelion experiences? I’m only playing round with the idea at the moment, but I’m putting out feelers to see if it could be a goer.

      Liked by 1 person

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