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Dandelion Plant – Love and Hate Posted by on Apr 12, 2021 in Culture, Foods, Seasons, Vocabulary

Photo taken and used with permission from Kandle Dart

In Vietnamese, the dandelion plant is called cây Bồ công anh. Other common names are cây diếp hoang, bồ cóc, mũi mác, mãn địa kim tiền, and hoàng hoa địa đinh. This plant is considered a type of cỏ dại (weed).

You know it’s Spring when hoa Bồ công anh (dandelion flower) blooms everywhere. Most homeowners with a yard hate this weed. It’s an eyesore and an annoyance to see its presence in flower beds, in a green manicured grass yard, in flower pots, or worse, in any tiny cracks on the driveway or crevices around the house foundation. However, herbalists love it for its medicinal properties. Even better, the entire plant, including the leaves, stems, flowers, and roots, are edible. You can make dandelion wine, deep-fried dandelion blossoms, stir-fry dandelion leaves and flowers, and more.

I have a love/hate relationship with cây Bồ công anh. Its deep tap root makes it hard to pull, and if you don’t pull the entire root, it will come back with a vengeance; fuller, bigger, and stronger. In the past, I have hated it. Since I learned how to use the plant, I have started to love it. I have a large yard and I refuse to use chemicals for weed killer. I can’t let it take over my flower beds and vegetable gardens. I have to pull it one by one by hand. Tell me, should I hate it after doing this exhausting, mundane work? I do, but since I can’t do anything about it, I’ve decided to embrace it. After all, it’s a little cute and useful plant.

Photo taken and used with permission from Kandle Dart

Photography is one of my hobbies. Each Spring, dandelions are my little “model” in the yard for my macro-photography experiments. The floret is simple but quite interesting. The seed head even looks exotic to me. The flower color is bright and cute. When it comes to seeds, you can blow the seed head for fun and see how far the wind can carry it. These days, I harvest rễ cây Bồ công anh (dandelion root), dry it, and save it to make tea to drink in the winter.

For thousands of years, cây Bồ công anh has been recorded in human history and used as food and traditional medicine in many countries. The plant has been used in alternative medicine to treat upset stomach, constipation, inflammation, boosting the immune system, and more. For insects, it’s an important plant providing a source of nectar and pollen in early Spring, especially for bees and butterflies in the northern hemisphere.

In Western culture, hoa Bồ công anh (dandelion flower) is a “dandelion wish flower.” It’s a tradition to blow out the seed head while making a wish. I am no longer a child to believe in making a wish that way, but I do like to blow the seed head, while admiring its light fluffy seeds scattering, thinking how strong and resistant this plant is. Superstitiously, the flower represents the sun, the moon, and the stars (yellow flower for the sun, white round seed head for the moon, and the blowing seeds for the stars).

In literature, Bồ công anh symbolizes lots of things such as happiness, joy, health, power, etc. Most appealing to me is its symbolism of perseverance, endurance and determination. For some reason, the lines from the end of the book Mockingjay (The Hunger Games Triology) written by Suzanne Collins comes to mind:

“…What I need is the dandelion in the Spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, no matter how bad our losses…”

It was a powerful message and that was how I think of cây Bồ công anh, the very inspirational plant that comes each Spring.

Photo taken and used with permission from Kandle Dart

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