Human Flower Project
Thursday, February 24, 2005
Dandelion—Follow the Italians and Bears
Familiarity has bred contempt for this delicious and beautiful wildflower.
Emily Green of the Los Angeles Times plays Atticus Finch, in defense of dandelions. Before spraying Ortho across this spring’s crop, read this article and open your mind.
Photo: Missouri Botanical Garden
Long before the 17th century, dandelion had been cultivated in Europe “the greens for salads and frying, the root as a medicinal herb, the flower for wine.” Green’s article reports that there may be as many as 2000 species in the world.
Though the greens are a delicious source of iron, copper, potassium, calcium and magnesium, “outside a select band of salad lovers, we Americans stubbornly refuse to partake. For the salad gardener, it is almost unbearable. If only we were as smart as Italians. If only we had the taste of grizzly bears.”
Each yellow flower “is actually a cluster of more than 100 tiny flowers called ‘ray florets.’ As the florets mature, they drop away, leaving the parachute-like seeds poised on puffballs, waiting for a child’s breath or spring breeze to set a new crop.” Blooming dandelions wilt too fast to pose in a vase but, with sugar and fruit juice, can be made into golden wine. “Be sure,” Green advises, “to clip off all the green, keep just the florets and make sure the area hasn’t been sprayed with a pesticide.”
In astrology, dandelion belongs to Pisces, 12th and last sign of the solar year. Happy birthday to Jacque, and all our fellow fish.