If you would like to read my Dorset nature notes about any of these featured species or sites please click on the post title

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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

18 March, 2014

Dent-de-lion: the common dandelion

You can probably find a dandelion (Taraxacum agg.) in flower at just about any time of year but it is March when they seem to burst upon us in great numbers and to many, along with daisies, are an absolute pest making a mess of our lawns, verges, parks, churchyards and open grassy places! Dandelions, however, are a vitally important flower as they form the basic food source for many of our early emerging insects. Find a patch of dandelions and take a look; many
will have an insect of some sort buried in amongst the petals gathering nectar.
There are lots of flowers in the same family and telling them apart can be difficult although the 'true' dandelion should be quite obvious to everyone. However, there are also hundreds of closely related micro-species of dandelion and telling them apart is a job for a botanist, not me!
The name dandelion is a corruption of the original French phrase 'dent de lion' meaning 'tooth of the lion'. In Greece it is called Leotodon which also means lion tooth. This is because the notched leaves apparently resemble the teeth of lions! 
The dandelion has many medicinal and culinary uses and they are even cultivated for commercial purposes in some parts of the world. Not here though, as soon as they appear the local council swing in to action and cut them down before they can produce those wonderful dandelion clocks we used to blow away as children.
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