The dandelion deserves its close-up too

Here is a common dandelion, Taraxacum officinale. Boring!


But the wasp does not agree. She is busily foraging for nectar, deep inside the 200-odd tiny florets that compose the flower-head.


The tall curly things are the stigmas, covered in pollen:DSC09930-2

and the pollen collects on the body of the wasp, who then unwittingly transfers it to the next flower that she visits:


Successful pollination means the dandelion can produce its plumed seeds, each called a pappus, to create that ethereal thing, the dandelion clock:


A single pappus can be seen top left, detaching itself from the seedhead. The word ‘pappus’ is from the Greek for grandfather, whose white beard the dandelion clock resembles. A pappus can fly for a kilometre, and scientists have worked out how they do it:

The much smaller coltsfoot is being visited here by a flower beetle. Just like the dandelion, the coltsfoot’s curly stigmas will deposit their pollen on the insect, though I must admit his shiny wing cases don’t seem likely to provide a very good attachment site:

coltsfoot? flower beetle?

Below is a link to a really wonderful piece by Brian Johnston with microscopic photos of the dandelion, showing far more than I can manage with my camera.

And I had completely forgotten that my friend Leigh Hayes did a terrific post on dandelions two years ago. Here it is:

And do consider following her blog too.

One thought on “The dandelion deserves its close-up too”

  1. I think the Flower Beetle must like to travel light. But now I am curious why he is so smooth and shiny. Again such stunning photos and thank you for the links to more info and photos.


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