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Sharp leaves and drifting 'clocks'

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Dandelion has its attractions

Dandelion has its attractions

Dandelion has its attractions

The yellow flower heads of praeseach bhuidhe, or charlock, have sprung from the landscaped soil of a riverside 'feature' off-setting smart new apartments where once there was a green field, an old ruined corn mill, and, indeed, a couple of cattle - a rus-in-urbe postcard scene from the distant past.

If it escapes the vigilance of caretakers, not many tenants coming to live here will know the name of this plant, whose leaves fed the starving in famine times, and which will spring up from seed asleep in the ground for more than 100 years. Sometimes it can have a companion in the scarlet common poppy (Papaver rhoeas) where new motorway work has piled up debris.

Wall barley (Hordeum murinum) is a surprising soldier nearby as well as hawksbeards (Crepis capillaris) and groundsel (Seneca vulgaris) which used be sought by owners of caged song birds in the distant past. There is also now a scattering of dandelion parachutes - following more yellow blooms - drifting in the breeze spreading their futures wherever they may fall. Children used to call them clocks, blowing off the seeds to tell the time or trying to catch one on the wing to make a wish.