Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Yellow Flowers on a Blue Sky - Cool Baba!

Sunflowers of Ukraine.jpg Tania D'Avignon.jpg

Yellow flowers in the distance, yellow flowers on a green carpet, against a blue sky - well, a rainy blue sky. While the flower of Ukraine may be a sunflower, Calgary's surely has to be the dandelion!

Ukraine's soil is so fertile its sunflower seeds itself everywhere, harvested as a food, and a pressed oil crop. Of course it is all so cultured!  But here we are in Calgary, with its thin layer of young soil atop a rocky bed of glacial till and the sandy remains of an inner continental seas - where Taraxacum now rules. Ready to colonize disturbed soil, the seeds of Taraxacum, introduced in the bundles of seeds brought from the old word, now colonizes most of the temperate world with its hundreds of subspecies.

Taraxacum or dandelion is an edible perennial, good for culinary and medicinal purposes. While noteworthy for its incredibly deep growing roots - up to  22.5 cm long, its nutrient rich leafy greens can be added to salad, or steamed in teas, while the flowers make a nice wine, and the dried roots are sometimes used in herbal coffee substitute. The dried roots help stimulate appetite and help with digestion.- also as a mild laxative. The leaves are mildly diuretic and can contribute to lowering high blood pressure.  Similar to daisies, ragweed, marigold or chamomile, eh!  

The flowers open their 2-5 cm heads to greet the morning sun and close to sleep at night.  They bloom a lovely butter yellow, attract pollinators, and then the head dries for a day or two. The dried petals and stamens drop off, but the bracts curve backwards to expose a parachute ball shaped like a full sphere. Parachutes of puff, anchored with a seed, expand in the breeze and lift off. The puffed parachute drops off the seed shell when it strikes an obstacle, and the seed finds a new home.

The dent de lion, may carry a French name, but the dandelion is also a kul'baba in Ukrainian. It sets its hardy tap root deep into the soil and creates community of like culture.  I LIKE THAT! Cool Baba! Kool Baba has yellow flowers, ready to parachute into a bright blue sky!

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