By Larry D. Rea –
How many flowers do you see when you look at one lovely dandelion? If you answer one, you are wrong. The flower head of a dandelion is actually a tightly packed mass of many tiny florets (petals) and each one represents a flower. Depending on the author and the 60 to 2,000 dandelion species, Google indicates there are from 50 to several hundred flowers per plant. If you want to be certain, I suggest that you count them yourself.
The dandelion makes one seed per flower, creating a one-for-one correspondence. If you do intend to count them, it might be easier to wait until after the seeds form. Since the seeds separate easily from the receptacle take care not to lose any. Every seed has a parachute and one puff of wind will scatter them.
Dandelions bloom from early spring to late fall and since they grow everywhere in in Oregon, locating one is not difficult. You might even find some growing in your lawn. Perhaps you have heard the old joke, “How many dandelions does it take to cover your yard?” The answer is: “One . . . just give it a little time. “
What is not to like about this plant that is used for both food and medicine. While those who seek the perfect lawn or golf course revile it as a non-native invasive weed, it is a marketing dream for herbicide companies. Don’t expect to find seeds at the market, but finding dandelions growing in your lawn does mean you are doing a favor for birds, bees and other pollinators. Every part of the dandelion is edible and nutritious; you could even be providing a survival food for yourself.
Some people call it a dandelion clock and claim you can tell the time by how many seeds are left on the dandelion after that first puff. Others say that blowing the seeds away with one puff of breath brings good luck or grants a wish.
So, if you go ahead and plant that one dandelion in your yard. Just don’t tell your neighbors that you are planting it . Then smile, stand back, and watch the dandelions grow.
Photos by Larry D. Rea (More about Larry at www.taxaflora.com)