Friday, 15 January 2010
After a little general research into dandelions I have become more and more interested.
The Kew website says:
"As most British dandelions produce fruit without being fertilised (they are apomictic), substantial problems arise with the taxonomy of these plants. This group is complex consisting of around 200 microspecies, and is typically treated as a species aggregate, denoted as Taraxacum officinale agg. The dandelion is a perennial plant, and flowers throughout the year. Dandelions have deep taproots, and the whole plant contains a milky fluid known as latex. The flowerheads close at night, and can produce around 2,000 wind-dispersed fruits. Plants can also regenerate from pieces of the taproot."
There is also a really great book Dandelions of Great Britain and Ireland by AA Dudman and AJ Richards which gives loads of information:
"the number of native Taraxacum species known in Britain and Ireland probably doesn't exceed 150. Because of the ease of spread of wind-blown seeds, the proximity to Continental Eurpoe and the rediness of dandelions to prosper in man-made environments, there is a steady import of continental species, mostly in the Section Ruderalia, and this accounts for the larger number of some 235 species recorded from the British Isles".
I'm not especially interested in identifying all the different species I find - i'm not sure if i'd be any good at this really difficult subject, plus that's not really why i'm doing the dandelion project in the first place.
The image above is of a specimen sheet I produced for John Fox and Sue Gill at the Beach House in Baycliff. It shows some of the different dandelion leaves I collected around the site while there in May 2009.