Taraxacum – the dandelion

Field dandelions (Taraxacum sp.) photographed in the middle of summer near Hinxton, England.

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All greens from the background were removed in Lightroom.

Dandelion – British Wildflowers

The earliest signs of spring in gardens and meadows around Britain are the appearance of these tough dandelions. They might be the scourge of the gardener but they do light up meadows with their bright yellow showy flowers. These dandelions were seen on a footpath along a field near Hinxton, Cambridgeshire.

Field dandelion.

 

Dandelion – A gardeners nightmare or cooks delight?

Mention Dandelion to any gardener who loves their lawns and they will tell you a few stories about how difficult these plants are to get rid of, and how pernicious these weeds can be. Dandelions belong to the Taraxacum genus of the family Asteraceae and found in most of Europe and North America. They tend to have leaves that are flat and close to the ground and produce bright yellow flowers throughout late spring and summer. Whilst the flowers tend to brighten up any wasteland, they also grow happily between grass in lawns. Due to their low habit, they avoid being cut down by standard lawn mowers. Every plant produces a beautiful spherical head of winged seeds that easily disperse in the wind (see below).

araxacum officinale
Taraxacum officinale

The recent series of television (Masterchef: The Professionals) had a cook James Burton using Dandelion roots in cooking! Till that time I’d no idea that these plants were edible, so used as I was to zap them with weed killer on first sight. Reading up a little more on these plants, it turns out that the dandelion leaves are an excellent source of iron and calcium (more than spinach)!

So the next time I see these growing in my garden (which I’m sure I will), I’ll be reaching out for a recipe book and not my glyphosate containing weed killer!