Nature Notes

Dandelions

Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) are regarded as a garden weed , but although I am constantly trying to eraciicate them from my patch I always leave a few to thrive because they are beneficial to insects and birds, particularly Goldfinch, who I have seen holding down the stems with one leg in order to prize out the seeds with their beak. Dandelions are very widespread in N and W Europe including Iceland and the far north of Norway. Their seeds, produced in May, are attached to hairy parachutes and drift with the prevailing wind until coming to rest in a wind-free spot where, in the right conditions, they will quickly become established producing very long taproots in the soil. In WW2 the former USSR made rubber from Dandelion latex.