Other Scottish Country Dances for this Day
Today's Musings, History & Folklore
"Blessings on thy sunny face, In my heart thou hast a place, Humble Dandelion!" ~ To a Dandelion, Helen M. Johnson
Did you grow up with the childhood pastime of picking dandelions and blowing on the seedhead for "dandelion clocks" or "dandelions wishes"? The ubiquitous dandelion (from the French dent-de-lion, named for the leaves lion tooth-like appearance), has been used medicinally, symbolically, and magically in folklore for centuries. One of its more recent uses is the discovery of methods to extract the natural high quality latex from the plant tissue, as an alternative to the rubber plant. As of May 2014, the first prototype test tires made with blends from dandelion-rubber are scheduled for testing on public roads over the next few years!
The Dandelion Picker
April 5th is Dandelion Day!
Dandelions, though considered a nuisance weed by some, have been used as a food, drink, and medicinal remedy throughout history.
For such a common weed belonging to the sunflower family, dandelion is easily misidentified. Many look-alike plants have similar leaves, but dandelion leaves are hairless. They generally have toothed edges that gave the plant its French name, “dent de lion.” Leaves and hollow flower stems grow directly from the rootstock. There is only one flower per stem, verses other branching look-alike plants. Root, leaves and stem all exude a milky white sap. The fruits form “wish balls” or "dandelion clocks." Individual seeds are carried away by parachute like hairs with the slightest breeze or breath. They have been known to travel on the wind as much as five miles!
Dandelion is one of the oldest documented medicinal herbs. It was intentionally imported to the Americas on the Mayflower ship (around 1620) as a food crop and cure-all medicine. It was quickly incorporated into American Indian medicine.
The dandelion is a rarity in that humans can eat all parts of the plants. The young leaves are boiled like spinach or eaten raw in salads. The roots may are peeled and sliced for salads or eaten roasted or fried. The yellow blossoms can be eaten outright, deep fried or mixed into pancakes, or made into wine. The raw blossoms are slightly bitter and can turn the saliva a bright yellow for several minutes. Boy Scouts, as part of foraging skills, occasionally feast on the ripe seeds or leaves.
See below for a video of the Tay Dancers performing this dance in 2018.
And for a Sweet & Savoury Dandelion Rosemary Shortbread recipe, click The Dandelion Clock by William John Hennessy (1839-1917).