Wish Flowers


O, rich and haughty,
King of village flowers!
Each day is coronation time,
You have no humble hours.

I like to see you bring a troop
To beat the blue-grass spears,
To scorn the lawn-mower that would be Like fate’s triumphant shears,
Your yellow heads are cut away,
It seems your reign is o’er.

By noon you raise a sea of stars
More golden than before.      

Vachel Lindsay


Opportunistic, prolific, perseverant, bright, sunny, free, and full of  imagination.  How many plants or flowers embody that kind of description?  As gardeners, we would clamor at the chance to grow such a brilliant species.  But, we do not.  Only a child appreciates the merits of this humble little flower.  What parent can resist a freshly picked golden bouquet presented with all the love in their dirt smeared hand. Or, checking to see if the yellow glow is reflected under your chin. Best of all blowing the downy seed and making a wish.  Many have participated, young and old, throughout North America and Europe in this ritual.  What would spring and summer be without the Dandelion?  

The Dandelion derives its name from a 15th century, Medieval Latin phrase, ‘dens lionis,’ which refers to the shape of the leaves, like a jagged lion’s tooth.  The French translated this to ‘dent-de-lion,’ lion’s tooth, and then it became known as ‘dandelion,’ in Middle English.  The name still fits today because it’s easy to remember and the flower certainly has the look of a lion’s mane and the leaves, lion’s teeth.  Throughout history, people have attached special meaning or symbolized plants.  The Dandelion though considered a nuisance, was known to symbolize, healing from emotional pain and physical injury alike, the warmth and power of the rising sun, surviving through life’s challenges, long lasting happiness, youthful joy, and playfully getting your wish fulfilled. Not only does the name, Dandelion, tweak the imagination, its use is creative, too!

Before the onset of readily available manufactured goods, plants were grown in home gardens to be utilized for specific qualities they possessed.  Dandelions usefulness continues today.  The leaves and flowers are both edible and quite healthy, with the flowers tasting less bitter than the leaves. Some people use the flowers for making wine in the summer. The root of the plant when consumed as a tea is believed to have medicinal properties.  Artists and children have used the yellow flower to ‘paint’ with on paper. The root, when made into a dye imparts a red-brown color, the flower a soft shade of wheat when used on fabric or yarn. Truly, there is more than meets the eye when gazing across your lawn at all those sunny faces.

You might curse it as a weed when it pops up in your lawn, but the Dandelion is beautiful and full of symbolism nonetheless. This cheerful little flower can grow practically anywhere there is a pinch of soil or a crack in the sidewalk. Even if you think of the plant as nothing more than a pest, understanding its history, symbolism and use might give you a new appreciation for the flower being pulled up as a  weed. So, this season gather up a small bouquet of Dandelions to share. Celebrate the return of spring in all its joyful splendor and remember to make a wish.