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3 Comments

  • Hi,
    I enjoyed your post on dandelion. I grew up and still live in Newfoundland, Canada. As a child we always called a dandelion a “piss a bed”. Prior to the mid 1700’s France occupied much of the area of Newfoundland where I grew up and many of the place names are still French. It was only as an adult that I connected the name piss a bed to its French origins.

    Frank

  • The ‘lion’s tooth’ (its appearance) and ‘piss in bed’ (its function) names for this plant are two competing – or, who knows, maybe symbiotic – root systems that crop up in various languages.
    The ‘dent de lion’ image flourishes, for example, in Spanish (diente de león), Italian (dente di leone), German (Löwenzahn) and Norwegian (løvetann). In French, though, it’s withered and been supplanted by ‘pissenlit’ (so much for French sophistication!) while other languages have tried to prune, or even weed out or eradicate this latter image, though it nevertheless clings on, for example in Karen’s German dialect example and in ‘pissabed’, which is a folk name in Britain as well as Newfoundland (thanks, Frank). Perhaps the duality of the noble (lion’s tooth, the king of the jungle’s dentures) and the lowly (piss in bed) reflects an ambivalent attitude towards the dandelion, the love-hate relationship that Karen describes.
    Elsewhere, other images have propagated themselves as names for the dandelion – e.g. Polish ‘mlecz’ (cf. ‘mleko’ = ‘milk’, a reference to the milky liquid that seeps from the stems of the flowers after you’ve picked them), Swedish ‘maskros’ (= ‘worm rose’) and Dutch ‘paardebloem’ (= ‘horse flower’).

  • Delightful reminder of days gone by Karen! And thanks for pointing out the value of hanging on to some dandelions in my garden. It’s an annual battle pulling them up before they turn to seed. Very satisfying getting it just right and extracting the whole root in one go…!! Could I make tea from them myself? Do I boil the leaves or the petals? Or both? Perhaps a follow-up note on creating our own herbal teas?!