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Dandelions:  ”Sparks Dropped from the Sun”

Dandelions:  ”Sparks Dropped from the Sun”

Eva Wajda

A sure sign of spring is dandelions in bloom. 

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) was so named after the French dent de lion, meaning lion’s tooth, which refers to its toothed leaves. 

Many people think of dandelions as a nuisance and a pesky weed to be eliminated from their lawn and garden using – not always successfully – weed killers and other means, because  any part of the root remaining in the ground will rapidly regenerate.

The plant's young leaves are very delicate, edible in salads, and loaded with vitamins A, B, C and D, as well as minerals, such as iron, potassium and zinc.  The dried roots can be roasted and ground into coffee substitute, the dried flowers and leaves can be made into wine and tea.  Herbalists still use dandelions to treat skin conditions, asthma, low blood pressure, poor circulation, ulcers, constipation, colds and hot flashes.

The dandelion's peak flowering time is in the spring when pollinators emerge from hybernation.  Each flower has up to 100 florets, each one packed with nectar and pollen, an easily available source of food, a lifesaver for bees, honeybees, butterflies, bumble bees, hover flies, and beetles.  After flowering, the goldfinches and house sparrows eat the seeds that develop after the blossom matures into a puff ball.  The white fuzz is attached to the seed and acts as a parachute.  The wind catches it and can carry the seed great distances.

I spent hours as a child with my friends looking for dandelions with the longest, biggest stem to link into long chains and then wearing them until one link snapped, to our great disappointment.  We would pick the puff balls and blow on them and the winner was the one who blew off the seeds the fastest.  Sometimes they would get in our hair.

There are dandelion references in literature going back over a 1000 years in China, Europe and the Middle East.  Famous works have been written about the flower and plant; one is Hans Christian Andersen's "The Conceited Apple-Branch" (1852); the popular "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins; the writings of John Burroughs on Dandelions; ”Dandelion Coffee” by Susanna Moodie; "The Home Acre," by E.P.Roe, and many more.

Henry Ward Beecher, brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, wrote:  "It gives one a sudden start in going down a barren stony street, to see upon a narrow strip of grass, just within the iron fence, the radiant dandelion, shining in the grass, like a spark dropped from the sun."

Éva Wajda is a member of the Magyar News Online Editorial Board.

 

A Tündér
Weöres Sándor

Bóbita, bóbita táncol, 
Körben az angyalok ülnek, 
Béka-hadak fuvoláznak, 
Sáska-hadak hegedülnek.

Bóbita, bóbita játszik, 
Szárnyat igéz a malacra, 
Ráül, igér neki csókot, 
Röpteti és kikacagja.

Bóbita, bóbita épít, 
Hajnali köd-fal a vára, 
Termeiben sok a vendég, 
Törpe-király fia-lánya.

Bóbita, bóbita álmos, 
Elpihen őszi levélen, 
Két csiga őrzi az álmát, 
Szunnyad az ág sűrűjében.


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