Welsh, Dant-y Llew. - Irish, Bearnan bearnagh. - Gaelic, Am bearnan bride. - French, Dent de lion. - German, Lowenzahn.
"Dandelion with globe of down, The schoolboy's clock in every town," proclaims one use of the dandelion-down, and L. E. L. adds in her musical strain:-
"Then did we question of the down-balls, blowing To know if some slight wish would come to pass; If showers we feared, we sought where there was growing Some weather-flower, which was our weather-glass,
In the old, old times The dear old times".
And the rustic lover, when his school-boy days have passed away, still blows the dandelion-down when he is absent from his "ladye love." For, his belief is that, if you turn your face in the direction of the "abiding place" of the object of your affection, and blow softly, gently, at the globe of down in your hand, every little winged seed that grows upon it will, silently, secretly, surely, bear to the absent one some unconscious thought or feeling of the truth and strength of your affection. It is a pleasant and kindly old superstition; one which is at all events harmless; pleasant to those who really believe in its truth, and pleasant even to those - who though too sensible to believe in it, recollect how in their youth-ful days they thought it auspicious to see the dan-delion-seeds floating gently towards them on some quiet summer's day. And, after all, in the many mysteries which entangle our life on every side, we know that true and kindly wishes, from even the humblest and least known do, and must influence our welfare, and it is consoling to many a suffering and noble heart to feel that its most secret prayers and wishes may benefit some cherished one to whom outwardly it cannot minister.
Absence requires every tendril which the heart can put forth to sup-port it; and so small a one as this thought need not be rashly despised.
The dandelion too, has another pleasant asso-ciation connected with it; be the season what it may, hot or cold, summer or winter, still there is rarely a time when the dandelion-flower may not be found in some warm and sunny nook; so that it may be taken for almost as good an emblem of con-stancy as is the groundsel in the pretty old nursery rhyme:-
"Through storm and wind, Sunshine and shower, Still will you find Groundsel in flower".
As for the appearance of the dandelion - our only British dandelion - who knows it not? With its golden glowing disc, and its leaves jagged like the lion's armed jaw, many of our most prized garden plants are not half so handsome as this despised and hardy flower. Though I must acknowledge that it is not a desirable flower to adorn a bouquet, or to bestow on a fair lady, as its white and milky juice is not so innocent as it looks; but stains indelibly any fabric it may touch, and makes the fingers which press it resemble those of the workers in nitrate of silver, in pyrogallic acid, and in other pho-tographic preparations. The dandelion, like the daughter in the song, is "As good as she is fair," for its uses are end-less; the young leaves blanched make an agreeable and whole-some early salad; and they may be boiled like cabbages, with salt meat. The French, too, slice the roots, and eat them, as well as the leaves, with bread and butter; and tradition says that the inhabitants of Minorca once subsisted for weeks on this plant, when their harvest had been entirely destroyed by insects.
The leaves are even a favourite and useful article of food in the Vale of Kashmir, where - in spite of the pre-conceived prejudices we all have to the contrary - dandelions, and other humbler exam-ples of our northern "weeds" do venture to asso-ciate themselves with the rose or the jasmine of its eastern soil! On the banks of the Rhine the plant is cultivated as a substitute for coffee, and Dr. Harrison pretends that it possesses the fine flavour and substance of the best Mocha coffee without its injurious principle; and that it promotes sleep when taken at night, instead of banishing it as the coffee does. Mrs. Moodie* gives us her experiences with dandelion-roots, which seem to have been of a most satisfactory nature. She first cut the roots into small pieces and dried them in the oven until they were brown and crisp as coffee, and in this state they appear to have been eaten. But certain it is that she ground a portion of them, and. made a "most superior coffee." She adds that the roots should be dug up in autumn, washed, cut in pieces, and dried in the sun. In this state they will keep for years, and should be roasted when required.
In some parts of Canada they make an excellent beer of the leaves; in which the abundant saccharine matter they afford, forms a substitute for malt, and the bitter flavour serves instead of hops.
Dandelion.- Leontodon taraxacum.
* "Roughing it in the Bush".
In medicine, too, the dandelion is invaluable. In all affections of the liver, or other visceral obstruc-tions, it is one of those very few medicines which - acting very slightly as a tonic - leaves no injurious after-effects; so that as a gentle and strengthen-ing aperient, we have no more valuable medicine, whether it be taken in the form of an extract, when it appears in the druggist's shop under its trivial name of taraxacum, or if the expressed juice, or even an infusion, be given in domestic, or rustic, practice.
I will mention only one other employment of the dandelion. If we would sing a paean in honour of the dandelion - and praises have been sung in honour of less honourable things - we may imitate the little country children, and tune our pipe - nay, manu-facture it - with the plant itself, and tread a merry, or a stately measure, as those children do, to an instrument formed of the hollow stalks of the dan-delion-blossoms, inserted, in joints, into each other. A pipe original enough to serve Pan himself!