The Return of the Dandelions


I remember as a kid being told that if my chin turned yellow when rubbed with a dandelion, that meant I liked butter. My chin was turned yellow more times than I care to admit before I realized that dandelions turned everything yellow. I can also remember blowing hard on dandelions gone to seed and making wishes, and I can remember counting the seeds to see how many boyfriends I would have one day.

3 yellow dandelions with many more behind
“Dandelion” by Leo-setä, Flickr Creative Commons

Dandelions can lose some of their magic in adulthood when you try to control their invasion into your yard. My hands have turned into claws and I’ve walked bent at a 45 degree angle after hours spent removing them by hand. But other adults have continued to enjoy their magic by turning them into dandelion wine, I applaud their ingenuity and have enjoyed sampling their efforts. They also have extensive uses in herbal medicine and every part of them can be eaten, including the flowers and roots.

These prolific growers get their name from the Old French dent-de-lion, which means lion’s tooth. Originally brought to America by the colonists because they were used for food and medicine, they can also be used to tell time by their flowers which open by 5am and close by 8pm, and they are natural barometers. The next time you see a dandelion that has gone to seed, pay attention. In fair weather, the seed ball will extend to its fullest but when rain is coming, it will shut like an umbrella.

The folklore around them adds to their appeal even more. While I didn’t find reference to them indicating that a person liked butter, I did find several legends related to the seeds. Need to know the time? The number of blows it takes to disperse all of the seeds is the hour of the day. Do you need an oracle? Turn to the trusty dandelion. If you can blow the seeds off with just one blow, you are loved passionately. If some of the seeds remain, your lover has reservations. If no seeds remain, you are loved little or not at all. Have something to say? Think about your message and then blow the seeds in their direction, the seeds will carry the message. Blow again to see if they are thinking of you and if one seed remains, you are not forgotten. Depending on your desire, the seeds that remain after blowing a dandelion can be used to predict the number of children you will have or how many years you have left to live. Or when young girls are doing it, how many boyfriends they will have.

Dandelions have many symbolic meanings: persistence, strong will, cheerful love, general happiness, wishes coming true, summer, and childhood. My personal favorite is that they are a symbol of hope. And I like the legend best of all that says the seeds of a dandelion will carry your thoughts and dreams to a distant loved one.

Sources used:
Foraging with the “Wildman”
Dandelion Folklore and their sited sources:
Source: “The Child and Childhood in Folk-Thought,” by Alexander F. Chamberlain
Source: “Unusual Vegetables, Something New for this Year’s Garden,” Rodale Press Emmaus, PA.
Source: Online Etymology Dictionary & Common Dandelion – The Lion’s Tooth
Source: “Unusual Vegetables, Something New for this Year’s Garden,” Rodale Press Emmaus, PA.

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Heidi Van Heel

Heidi Van Heel

Writer, freelancer, and believer in magic living in Minneapolis. In my free time, I love reading, exploring the great outdoors, and experimenting in the kitchen.

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