Thursday, May 28, 2020

The humble dandelion

I give you the humble dandelion.

This is the seed head, the most famous part. Go ahead and make a wish...


Today it was windy. When it is windy it is very hard to take super macro pictures of exotic front yard flowers like lilacs and tulips and bleeding hearts. They move around a lot in that wind. And in the best of circumstances using a long, intensely macro lens requires an unbelievably steady hand. A hand usually, but not always, steadier than my own. But in the wind, with the flowers dancing to their own music, one can generally just... forget about it.

Or at least one can try, even if I'm not inclined to.

But down in the lawns and wild scrub are dandelions. They are low and noxious and scrappy and really interesting. They don't move around much. And here is the thing I have learned:

When you're close enough, everything is beautiful.

Did you know you can eat the leaves of dandelions, and they're sort of good if you can work with the powerful bitterness of them. One can also make a tea from the root if one wants, though having done it I don't exactly know why one would want to.

Also you don't have to look far for a dandelion. They are readily available.

So I found one.

One more thing. You don't have to explain to anyone what a dandelion is.

I took a picture of the famous seedball above because it turns out it's sort of a standard, maybe even a weird kind of rite of passage, for a close up photographer. And the leaf was for your background information.

But as always, I'm all about the flower.

Recognize it?

It rarely shows up in bouquets, but the odds are that you have ripped your share out of the earth and thrown it away like so much garbage.

I'm not faulting you. I certainly have done the same.

But it's a pretty little flower.

I was surprised it was not just the fancy array of petals I knew about, but it's full of little stalks.

At the risk of being educational the stalks are anthers, styles, and bilobed stigmas. So the lower part of the stalk is an anther, the upper part is a style (don't worry, I cant tell where the anther leaves off and the style begins either), and the other sort of two-leaf sprouting things are called bilobed stigmas. 

But here's the fun part: It's not one flower. It's a flower cluster!

This, above, is the flower. Each petal, or ligule, along with its curlicue sprout thing (anther, style, and bilobed stigma) is a ray floret, which is, as I understand it, its own little flower. It's dozens of flowers!

I can go one more bit closer, almost towards the microscopic, but it won't tell us much more.

To be honest I have no idea why this one bilobed stigma is so wonderfully curled. But I'm sure it knows what it's doing. These flowers seem pretty successful out in the world.

On this one the backdrop, a petal in front of more blurred petals, looks like the surface of a Sun, or some strange planet.

Most of the pictures here were of flower that was on a lawn where every attempt had been made to weed it out, but one of the close ups here was from another dandelion growing in the wild woods of the Mississippi River gorge. The last of these above was taken under laboratory conditions.

I think Coldplay would like them.

They're all yellow.

1 comment:

  1. I'm very fond of dandelions, which has annoyed my neighbors in the past. They come along just when we need a burst of color. Thanks for featuring them.


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