Every year we get a lot of mutant dandelions. And every year, I’ve intended to blog about them, but haven’t. So now is the time.

Here’s one. It’s like several dandelions melded into one, with several heads and a funny, fat, flat stem.

The correct term for this strange growth is fasciation or cresting. It’s caused by a mutation in the meristematic cells, by insect or mite attack, or by chemical or mechanical damage. It’s not necessarily hereditary. This is sad news for Ruadhri, because in the past he has marked these weird flowers when he has found them and shaken the seeds off when they’ve developed.

The Net suggests fasciation is fairly rare, but we have lots of occurrences here. Should we be worried? Are we on radioactive soil? We’ve sometimes wondered if there’s something in the air at Les Fragnes, since, as I’ve mentioned in other posts, our guinea pigs get smaller every generation! They’re slowly developing into micro-pigs.

There’s an interesting article about fasciation in plants here.

On the subject of dandelions, we are going to be making dandelion bhajis, having seen some on Countryfile the other day. They seemed to do down very well. Here’s the recipe.

And how about dandelion marmalade? Here’s are some easy instructions.

Ingredients: 4 cups of clean and coarsely chopped dandelion flowers (no green bits), 1 small lemon, 1 cup sugar, 2 tbsp. powdered low-sugar fruit pectin

What you do: Coarsely grate the lemon peel. Boil with the dandelions, sugar and pectin in enough water to cover for 15 minutes. Cool and pot. It should keep for 2 weeks in the fridge.

St George’s Day, 23rd April, is the day to traditionally pick dandelions for wine, so here’s a link to two recipes to make your own.

None of the recipes seem to care whether the dandelion is fasciated or not!