For centuries humans have used Dandelion plants for food & medicine and we have enjoyed having them in our gardens. They grow just about anywhere and so sometimes can be viewed as an annoying weed, but to wildlife they are seen as valuable contributors to our ecosystem. Here are a few facts about them:
There are over 230 microspecies of Dandelions (Taraxacum officinalis) in the UK. There common name comes from their serrated leaves which look like the teeth of a lion (‘dente-de-lion’ in French). Dandelions can grow between 6 inches and 2 feet tall with roots going down over a foot into the ground; they form a rosette of leaves and produce stems with flower heads.
Each flower head is made up of up to 300 little flowers, which can be pollinated by insects or by self-pollination. Each insect that pollinates, will receive a gift of nectar for its visit. Dandelion flowers support many different pollinators: bumblebees, honeybees, solitary bees, butterflies, beetles etc. Dandelion seeds are eaten by many different birds: goldfinches, bullfinches, house sparrows and linnets. All of these animals are present in Risby. Once the flowers have been pollinated the flower head transforms into a dandelion clock of parachute type seed heads. Dandelions use the wind to transport it seeds and it has been recorded as travelling up to 5 miles before landing!
In folklore, Dandelion’s are said to represent all the celestial bodies: the sun (yellow flower head), the moon (the white seed head) and the stars (the seed dispersal). At night-time the flowerhead closes and in the morning sun it opens up. Dandelions have the potential to flower all year round and they are present throughout all the UK including Risby!
So what can you do to support Dandelions and the animals which rely on them:
Only cut your lawn once every 4 weeks to maximise flowers in your lawn.
Don’t dig up dandelions from your lawns, let them grow.
Have a wild area in your garden, which you never disturb: where taller dandelions can exist.
Tell your friends about the benefits of dandelions and their value to wildlife!
To find out more please visit these websites: