Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Make a Wish


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.



18 comments:

Vagabonde said...

Your photos are so lovely ! The dandelion seeds are quite delicate. Years ago a friend gave me one encased in acrylic as a paper weight – this way I can look at it and it does not fly away. I like the German name of the flower – in French it is not a lovely name like that – they are commonly called “pissenlit” which means pee in bed! I guess because they have diuretic power. Their other name is dent-de lion – “dent” means tooth, then “de” or of, then lion or lion’s tooth, because of the form of their leaves – maybe that is why they are called dandelion in English – in Italian it’s dente di leone. I read that you can place the button of the dandelion flower (before it becomes a flower) in vinegar and salt and use it like capers, but I have not tried. But one of my favorite meals is a dandelion salad with hard boiled eggs and vinaigrette – I can eat a huge bowl and that’s my dinner.

Barb said...

Carola, What wonderful macros of the dandelion puff. Are they already blooming by you? I must admit, I try not to let them go to seed on my property. They are the one wildflower that I don't welcome in my garden. My grandchildren love them, of course. So interesting about the yellow butter when the cows feast on dandelion flowers. My husband's grandmother loved dandelion greens which are very bitter.

Cheri said...

I'm amazed that you have dandelions already! Becca, even as a teenager, somehow hadn't integrated the name in her vocabulary and called it a "wishy weed".

Pamela Gordon said...

What an interesting post! I had no idea the story behind the common dandelion and yellow butter. It will be a while before the dandelions start to bloom here and I enjoy seeing their bright yellow heads in the green grass come spring. Have a lovely week.

Elephant's Child said...

Brilliant photos.
I too love them. And have far too many in my 'lawn'.
And like vagabonde I have one cast in acrylic. How they did it without breaking/dispersing the fragile seed head I have no idea.

Chandra@GreenComotion said...

Wonderful close-ups, Carola - particularly the B&W - brilliant!
Have a Happy Week!!
Peace :)

Karen S. said...

I do! I do, and still do!

Linda Kay said...

Carola, I remember them well. Now we try to dig them up before there is even a yellow flower!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

We have those here in Florida and they are already out among the grass. You took beautiful photos...I love the last one. Enjoy your week!

Magic Love Crow said...

Gorgeous pictures! Fantastic information, thank you! I don't like the word weeds! I like wild flowers! LOL! Hugs!

Darla said...

Stunning photographs. I remember blowing on the seed heads and making wished. The information you provided about them was very interesting. I like the idea that cows that eat them produce milk that ends up providing a really yellow butter.

Jeanne said...

Love your black and white on this, and think your dandy lions are very cute

Gail said...

We always include the dandelion greens in our spring wild greens we cook.

Fantastic photos.

What Karen Sees said...

Beautiful images. I think I like the second one the best!! Love your work, I'm glad you found me!

seabluelens said...

When I lived in Ohio, every March my back yard would be dotted with dandelions and violets. My neighbor (whose lawn was immaculate) was scandalized that I wouldn't apply a weed killer to get rid of them, but I thought the combination of blue and yellow and green was beautiful, and the fact that they were all planting themselves and blooming their little hearts out without any help from me made me very happy.

Bethany Carson said...

Love your photos and recollections of the dandelions. My siblings and I had a lot of fun blowing the seeds off dandelions as well when we were younger. And the first bouquet I was ever given was a bouquet of dandelions! So I have fond memories as well.

Cheryl Bowman said...

Stunning Pictures ! I love the way you have done close up shots ,it makes you look at Dandelions a whole different way Thank You for sharing

Gunn said...

I LOVE the last one, the b/w one.

(I look forward to spring & summer.)

Still cold here in Stavanger / Norway