DANDELIONS MYTHS AND FOLKLORE
Dandelions are one of the most colourful, profuse and perverse plants. With such characteristics as these, it is to be expected that a number of myths and legends have grown up around these plants. Dandelions have been used for food and medicine for many years. As a consequence of their usefulness and bright colour most of the symbols and myths surrounding them are positive.
Woven into a wedding bouquet, they are meant to be good luck for a newly married couple. When dandelions appear in dreams, they are thought to represent happy unions. They are also considered to be symbols of hope, summer and childhood. Many beliefs centre on dandelions answering questions or bringing good luck. When the seeds are blown of a dandelion it was said to carry thoughts and affections to a loved one. (1)
In medieval rituals, dandelions being the colour of gold were used to predict whether a child would be rich when the flower was held beneath the chin,a the golden glow indicated the child would be rich. In 18th century England children held the dandelion under their chin and the more golden the glow the sweeter and kinder they were.(1)
One legend surrounding these flowers was that the tallest dandelion stalk that a child could find in the early spring will show how much taller they will grow in the coming year. Dandelions have also been used as a variation on the daisy petal plucking past time of “he loves me, he loves me not” If you blow on a white dandelion head and every seed scatters then you are loved. If some seeds still cling to the stalk, then your intended has reservations about the relationship..
It is also said that if you make a wish immediately before blowing on dandelion, your wish just might come true. Another belief was that the number of seeds left after blowing the seed head indicated the number of children that a girl would have in later life.(5)
According to Scott Cunningham, author of over thirty books on herbs and Wicca, Dandelion is said to increase psychic abilities when taken as a tea. A tea of the roots left steaming and placed beside the bed will call spirits. Dandelion buried in the northwest corner of the house will bring favourable winds.(5)
Others claim that the number of seeds remaining after blowing the seed head, are how many years you have left to live. A common belief is that the number of seeds left is the time, this gave rise to the term dandelion clock for the seed head. The dandelion flower opens an hour after sunrise and closes at dusk giving rise to the belief that it is a ‘Shepherd’s clock’(3).
The property of the pappus hairs to close when moist has led to another belief. The dandelion is an excellent barometer, one of the commonest and most reliable. It is when the blooms have seeded and are in the fluffy, feathery condition that its weather prophet facilities come to the fore. In fine weather the ball extends to the full, but when rain approaches, it shuts like an umbrella. If the weather is inclined to be showery it keeps shut all the time, only opening when the danger from the wet is past.(4)
However, dandelions are symbols of grief and the Passion of Christ in theological symbolism as well as being one of the bitter herbs of the Passover. (6)
The sticky white sap was used as a folklore cure for warts and corns (1). . As all parts of the plant may be eaten dandelion is a valuable survival tool.
Dandelions were intentionally transplanted from Europe over to the New World in the early days of the American Colonies they have become ubiquitous and spread across the continent. Dandelions are used as folk remedies in North America, Mexico and China. More of that in medicinal uses of dandelions
- 1. http://www.healthsmartsantafe.com/article/pdf/article-317.pdf
- 2. Unusual Vegetables, Something New for this Year’s Garden, Rodale Press Emmaus, PA.
- 3. Folkard (448. 309), from “The Child and Childhood in Folk-Thought,” by Alexander F. Chamberlain
- 4. Camping For Boys by H.W. Gibson