Do you remember when we were children how we would blow into these seed heads of the dandelion (Taraxacum)? We would make a wish while the seeds would flow everywhere - and often we would also have to sneeze because our noses would itch. In Germany we lovingly call them "Pusteblume" (blow flower). They're still beautiful when parts of them are already blown away.
There are quite a lot of them in my "lawn" which actually doesn't deserve the name "lawn". It's a huge assembly of all kinds of weeds. However, before I grabbed the hand push mower I took a few pictures of these beauties.
Before turning into these spectacular seed heads, dandelions are very common yellow flowers that often remind me of the sun with their bright and warm color. When I was a child, we called these flowers "Butterblume" (butter flower) and my Dad never stopped calling them this way. Their correct name - apart from the botanical one - is Löwenzahn (lion's tooth). So how come that the tooth of a lion became a butter flower?
I searched google.de for the answer, and this is what I found. When the cows were fed with dandelions, their butter would turn more yellow. Dandelions contain the natural substance flavoxanthin, C40H56O3, which is used as a food additive under the E number E161a as a food coloring. The word flavoxanthin is made up of the Latin word flavus which means yellow and the Greek word xanthos which means - guess what? Yellow! Flavoxanthin therefore is a yellow yellow. Therefore, it makes sense that one of the dandelion's names in German is butter flower.
I still remember the name Butterblume very fondly - it was the first flower in my childhood that I knew by name. I still see all those pastures dotted with them and, yes, the cows were eating them (and our butter wasn't as pale as many are nowadays). There are other flowers in Germany called Butterblume (just to confuse things a little bit more) that aren't related to dandelions at all. But for me, the Butterblume was and will always be the dandelion.
By the way, I still like yellow butter. We usually prefer to eat food that hasn't been on the road or in the air for thousands of miles, but we make an exception here. We eat Irish butter. I guess there are tons of dandelions in Irish pastures.... moo.