The humble Dandelion may not immediately strike you as a worthy species for an Advent Botany blog, but time after time I find it flowering in December. The flower regularly features in the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland’s (BSBI) annual New Year Plant Hunt. The twelfth New Year Plant Hunt will take place between 31st December 2022 and 3rd January 2023. I will be very surprised if Dandelions do not feature widely in this 2023’s New Year Plant too.
BSBI New Year Plant Hunt
In 2022’s New Year Plant Hunt, the Dandelion was one of four most frequently recorded plants in flower by BSBI members around the country. Dandelions flowering in winter may be seen as autumn stragglers. They are also one of the earliest plants to flower in spring. Dandelions are common and so it is easy to overlook their value. They provide an important early source of nectar for pollinators as they emerge.
The Dandelion is much maligned by gardeners as an unwelcome weed in the garden. I was certainly surprised when I discovered that the French use young Dandelion leaves from the garden in salads. Every child loves to blow the seeds of a Dandelion clock. It tends to be a flower that many children recognise even in these times of widespread plant blindness.
The British Ecological Society tried to get gardeners to leave Dandelions in their lawns. I certainly noticed how Dandelions thrived during the COVID lockdown when councils were not mowing grass verges as religiously. Many of my Dandelion photos were taken during this time. Reduced mowing is good for biodiversity.
New Year Botanical Recording
Dandelions are members of the Asteraceae or Daisy family. Species identification is complicated. I generally just record them as Taraxacum agg. Maybe one day I will have the time to master the identification of these apomictic plants. In the meantime, I shall be looking forward to another year’s New Year Plant Hunts. Weather permitting, I expect to accompany members of the Somerset Rare Plants Group on a hunt in Bridgwater and the Wiltshire Botanical Society on a hunt in Salisbury. However, any Dandelions found are unlikely to look their best. They are more likely to look like the Dandelions in the photo below… a bit bedraggled… but nonetheless a welcome sight in late December and early January.
© Karen Andrews
References and Further Reading
- Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (BSBI) (2022): New Year Plant Hunt 2023.
- British Ecological Society (2019): Mowing urban lawn increases biodiversity, saves money and reduces pests. 19 December 2019.
- British Ecological Society (2020): Why the British Ecological Society President mows round the Dandelions in her lawn. 4 February 2020.
Karen does not seek or receive any commercial interest or advantage from this blog. She is not promoting any business venture. She simply loves to share fascinating facts about plants. These pages illustrate her love of plants, botany, biodiversity, gardens and creative expression. There is always so much to learn about plant diversity. This blog is designed as a showcase for photography, commentary on plants and wildlife, gardens and other places visited, horticulture and related topics. Viewpoints are her own, not those of her employer.