The dandelion tree

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Roscoff

Thursday 29 June, 2017

Today we went to the Île de Batz and, much to my surprise, I came upon a dandelion tree. Truly, it was a dandelion tree. Well that’s the translation I’m giving to the French label of Pissenlit en arbre. It was in the Jardin Georges Delaselle, in which two-thirds of the species in the garden are from the southern hemisphere, so lots of flax and cabbage trees and even (though I missed it) a pohutukawa  in flower. But more on the garden in another posting. This evening I’m sticking to the dandelion tree (though I may include a few other photos, depending on how speedily the uploading goes).

It was the flowers that caught my attention first, and had me thinking how similar they looked to those of the dandelion. Except this plant was maybe a metre or more in height, so nothing like the growth habit of the humble dandelion we know as a weed. And then I looked more closely at the leaves, and again I thought, that looks bigger, but similar, to those of the dandelion. So that had me searching for a label, and, voilà, there it was: Pissenlit en arbre. Who knew? Well, I know the botanists among you will probably know, but it was a surprise to me. The botanical name is Sonchus congestus and it is a shrub endemic to the Canary Islands, or so the label told me.

That said, I also think I am doing a bit of muddling reminiscent of damselflies and dragonflies here, and mistaking  sow thistles for dandelions. Mr Google tells me the dandelion is Taraxacum officinale, while Sonchus is a sow thistle. And yes, when I look now, those leaves and branching heads of flowers do look rather like sow thistles. Whichever, I was nevertheless chuffed to happen upon a shrub on the Île de Batz looking like an overgrown dandelion and labelled Pissenlit en arbre.

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And here’s a few non-dandelion/sow thistle photos from the island (not necessarily from the Jardin Georges Delaselle).

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