Alpine Lady

Honoring the natural world through prose, poetry, music, sounds, photographs and musings.


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In Celebration of the Dandelion Seed

We’re all familiar with the dandelion, Taraxacium officinale, a member of the Asteraceae family with tiny flowers or florets collected together into its composite, bright yellow flower head. Dandelion roars to life come springtime to aid us in flushing out a rich accumulation of debris from the indulgence of richer wintertime fare, helping us to rebuild and support our health. Then in late summer, it blossoms again as a reminder that it’s there to help us ease into the winter rhythms after the sweet excesses and energetics of summer and autumn.

The center florets surrounded by the ray flowers arranged in a Fibonacci spiral.

The center florets surrounded by ray flowers and all arranged in a Fibonacci spiral.

Named for the French “Dent de lion”, meaning lion’s tooth from the appearance of its tooth-edged leaves, the whole plant has a rich tradition as a food and beverage source plus it is used in folk and modern herbal medicine. Actually its best known medicinal attribute as a diuretic is in it’s French name “Pissenlit” meaning piss-a-bed.

One hundred to three hundred florets making up the blossom and may be pollinated by insects, by the wind or according to a website “Buzz About Bees”, they have even evolved a unique method to pollinate themselves: “The stigma grow through the middle of the anthers. As this happens, pollen is automatically transferred onto the style. If no insect aids the pollination process, the stigma curls back on itself, picking up the pollen that caught onto the style below”. Thus even when it’s shut tight and unable to open because the weather is gray and there’s a lack of sunlight, it can pollinate itself by a process called apomixis which develops seeds identical in genetics to the parent. Sunny days and insect pollination, on the other hand, lead to a healthier diversity of plant seed. For a really good photographic showing of the apomixis process: http://cabinetofcuriosities-greenfingers.blogspot.com/2015/05/bees-need-dandelions-but-dandelions.html

The flowers open and close for three or four days and then stay closed for good, forming seeds inside. When ready, the stem grows high to catch the breezes, and on a dry day the seed head turns inside out forming the familiar “blow-about top” to be dispersed where they may. Cut open a seed-forming elder and examine the cycle for yourself.

Here is a photo journal in celebration of the dandelion seed head’s cycle. I hope you enjoy this aspect of the plant that many of us take for granted or bemoan that more seeds mean more weeds.

A springtime gathering of dandelions, probably all from one root.

A springtime gathering of dandelions providing an abundant source of nectar and pollen for hungry insects.

Come, rest a moment,
join me in community,
see me as bud, blossom and elder
waiting for the rhythms of the year
to open me to the heavens,
that I might pollinate and propagate.

And stand please
in wonderment,
rejoice when I pose
on tippy-toes and twirl
with the wind o’er the meadow
on a journey of a lifetime.

Dusted with dewdrops, the seed head awaits drying before it can begin its journey.

Dusted with dewdrops, the seed head awaits drying before it can begin its journey . . .

Mesmerizing moment . . .

A mesmerizing moment . . .

Once pollinated, up to 300 seeds position themselves where the breeze can catch the parachutes . . .

Once pollinated, up to 300 parachuted-seeds position themselves high above the main plant . . .

 And standing on tippie-toes , catch the breeze and twirl across the meadow . . .

and standing on tippie-toes, catch the breezes and twirl across the lawns and meadows . . .

Eventualy to fall to the g rond and with its unique seed head, auger in to begin afresh . . .

providing bird food for American  Goldfinches, Savannah and White-Crowned sparrows . . .

Imagine the potential bird food for goldfinches and sparrows.

eventually to fall the ground and with its unique seed head, auger in to begin afresh . . .

and with the balancing of community, space, and time . . .

with the balancing of community, space, and time . . .

 with the rhythm of the morning's full moon reflecting the dawning sun.

within the rhythms of the seasons as viewed by this morning’s full moon reflecting the dawning sun.

 

Until our next journey together, may your travels be safe and peaceful. ~ P

 

 

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The Augustness of August

August bares a poignant truth
that summer’s on the wane;
thunder storms announce the news
and hail stones chill the rain.
Summer apples, soft and sweet,
jar loose and plummet to the ground;
bald-faced hornets hone in and eat voraciously
the rotted morsels that can be found.
Cornucopia gardens fill to overflowing,
best intention’s weeding falls behind;
harvesting takes a bow at center stage
with preservation methods clearly now in mind.
Yellowed grass stalks hang richly-seeded
upon which herds of cattle graze;
seeds that fall upon the ground
may sprout come warm spring days.
Fields lie strewn with tightly-bound bales
for hay cutting and curing have been good;
the bucking crews quickly shift them to the barn,
stacking cut-ends-up under weathered wood.
Countless bird nests lie hidden and empty
from whence noisy fledglings took to wing;
mornings and evenings are filled with songs
their species instinctively yearns to sing.
Passerines and waterfowl practice flying in formation
for the flight young ones cannot comprehend;
it seems everywhere the natural world prepares
to feast and fatten before the season’s end.
And so the yearly spiral spins
moving forward in time;
another summer progresses
into autumn’s cooler paradigm.
What better plant to exemplify August than the prolific zuchinni squash?

What better plant to exemplify August than the prolific zuchinni squash?

Until we next journey together, may your travels be peaceful. ~ P