Every week we like to feature a wildflower – Dandelion. At this time of year, Dandelions create a swathe of colour around our farms and field margins. The striking yellow flowers are made up of about 200 ray florets and are borne on an unbranched, hollow stem. The leaves have backwards-facing lobes. Dandelions reach a height of anything between 5 and 30 cm with flower heads 2.5cm to 4.5cm wide. The flowering time is long, from March all the way to October. So, they are great for insects. For, early in the season they are an important source of nectar for bees and certain butterflies. The flowers close at night time and mature into fluffy seed heads often called “clocks”. A light wind disperses these seeds far and wide.
The name Dandelion comes from the French dents-de-lion meaning “Lions teeth”, thought to come from the teeth effect on the leaves. Dandelions are perennial and edible in their entirety. They are found across all continents and have been eaten for thousands of years. In fact, the leaves contain vitamins and are used in many dishes across the world. Also, the petals are often used to make wine. Roots, once ground and roasted, are used to make caffeine-free dandelion coffee.
As a result, Dandelions feature in many natural medicines and herbal remedies across the world. Not only that but the white liquid in the stems is a natural form of latex which can be used to make rubber. In Germany a cultivar has been created especially to source rubber from and as of 2014 the first rubber tires made from these Dandelions were scheduled to be tested.