Michelle Nicol

Blow me away
Dig me out
Taraxacum, the pavement pirate
I remain.
A lion-toothed dandy
Bold as a marigold,
An edible ne’er do well
Invading your borders.
From the ancient world,
To the wild west
I’m a persistent little blighter.
For a little air and sunlight,
A dog’s dribble of H20
You can get your kicks
From my free green vits.
Come my sweet butterfly,
Sing your linnet song,
Take me to bed
And you’ll no ‘scape a soaking.
I’ll grant your wish
A gift of time…
If you make like a zephyr
Float my flotilla
And blow me away

The dandelion. A weed indeed. But what’s a weed but a plant that grows where it’s not wanted?

Once the scourge of gardeners, nowadays maybe a little better tolerated thanks to ‘no mow May’ and its usefulness as a source of nectar and pollen for bees and butterflies.

Native to much of Europe and spread widely throughout North and South America. A globetrotter encountered everywhere from Alaska to New Zealand. Dandelions have been used by humans for food and medicine by Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Native Americans. Every part of the plant is edible from its root to its flowers and leaves.

A common flower, with the English common folk name ‘pissabed’ – a nod to the diuretic powers of tea made from its leaves, the dent de lion or lion’s teeth which give it its more recognisable name.

Its latin genus name is ‘Taraxacum’ which sounds far bolder and grander (and a little like a planet or villain from Doctor Who). This comes from the Arabic word ‘tarakhshagog’, meaning bitter herb.

A well-travelled, somewhat exotic and dandy character then. Definitely not welcome everywhere, certainly not in well-manicured society, but not without its charm. One that finds a way of getting where it’s not always wanted.

The dandelion’s ability to find a way through the hard, human surfaces of tarmac and concrete that we put in its way; its persistent boldness, sneakiness and bright-faced resistance invites me to remember the joy of finding a dandelion clock and making a wish.

Down and dirty. Defying authority. Taking little and offering great treasures. There’s much to learn on from the dandelion.

This year, even the ones on my garden path were granted a reprieve.

Image: Photo by Michelle Nicol

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