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Don’t Underestimate Me!
27th October 2018
I’m so ubiquitous I bet you don’t notice me, but I’m wonderful! I arrive with the first spring sunshine and stay stubbornly on until winter finally drives me away. I join you on your journey to work, by road, rail and even pavement. In fact, you’ll find me smiling cheerfully wherever the sun shines.
Who am I? I’m the not so modest dandelion.
Bold, brassy and brilliant that’s me. While many a first reaction to my appearance may be to reach for the weed killer or garden fork, please first let me plead my defence.
I am a true friend of wildlife, I am the friend of children, young lovers and I am the friend of the doctor. I have many common names including clockflower, puffball and clockface pertaining to the generations of children who tell the time by blowing my seed heads. Others include pee-a-bed, milk witch and wet-a-bed referring to my amazing medicinal properties. I’m also known as lion’s tooth, yellow gowan and priest’s crown all references to my appearance. I am special, unique and wonderful.
Children seek my delicate angel covered seed heads and delight in blowing on them, telling the time and making wishes as they do. Young lovers can be witnessed desperately blowing, trying to clear my crown with a single breath, as it is foretold to do so will mean their love will be reciprocated.
I’ve been used in medicine for centuries by humans and animals and every part of me is edible and beneficial. Leaves, roots, flowers and seeds are all used. I am anti-inflammatory, I balance blood sugar, I help kidney and liver function, I ease joint pain and even help skin conditions such as eczema. As you can see, many of my natural compounds can be found in the pharmacy.
I flower from early spring to late autumn and my bright yellow flowers bring joy and happiness to a mass of wildlife. Bees, butterflies and a myriad of mini creatures depend on my nectar and pollen when few other sources are available. Grazers of all sorts chew my leaves and dozens of moth caterpillars rely on me. I come from a large family including sunflowers, so you know birds love my seeds. Goldfinches can frequently be seen balancing on my hollow stems gorging on my seed heads.
I’m bright, I’m cheerful, I bring health and vitality everywhere I grow. I am entirely self-reliant as my deep lying tap root will always find water and nutrients, no matter what the weather. But If you’re not yet convinced that I really am wonderful, I’d like to close my defence (before you reach for the spray can) by offering you a taste of the delicious and refreshing wine and beer that I also produce!