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Zanna's Nature Notes: Dandelion clocks

Discover the amazing natural world around you with Usborne author Zanna Davidson. This week, find out why dandelions are a bee's best friend, and how to play a game of Dandelion Clocks.

The bluebells are over, the daffodils are long gone but my favourite early spring flower, dandelions, are still in bloom, as bright and yellow as little suns. 

Have you seen them? Most people think of dandelions as weeds but they are BRILLIANT for bees. They are one of the first flowers to come out in Spring, just as bees are waking up from their long winter sleep, or hibernation. These early bees are desperate for food to keep going and dandelions are perfect, as they’re packed with nectar and pollen.

The flower head is actually a mass of lots of tiny individual flowers, known as florets - so each petal is a single flower.

It’s not just bees that love dandelions, either. Beetles like them too, as well as hoverflies and butterflies, such as the peacock and holly blue.

Here’s a flower beetle on a dandelion. Flower beetles are a beautiful emerald green colour.

Next time you see a dandelion, look and wait a while, to see if you can find an insect feeding on its pollen and nectar. 

If you see dandelions first thing in the morning or last thing at night, you’ll notice they’re all closed up. That’s because they open with the sun and close again as the light fades. 

And if you keep watching, you’ll see something magical happen. It’s around now that yellow fields of dandelions turn cottony white. That’s because the yellow dandelion petals have been replaced with a puffball of seeds.

When the sun shines through them, they look like little halos.

Each seed comes with its own little parachute, so it can sail away on the wind - ready to take root and become a new dandelion.

Play at Dandelion Clocks

  1. Pick a dandelion and blow on it. 
  2. Count the puffs to see how many it takes to blow away the seeds.
  3. Each puff counts as an hour.

Photographs by Peter Bradley and Zanna Davidson.

About Zanna Davidson

Zanna Davidson

My name is Zanna Davidson and I write children’s books for Usborne, including the Billy and the Mini Monsters series. When I’m not writing, my favourite thing is to go outside and be in nature. Sometimes that means birdwatching, sometimes that means looking at wild flowers and other times it just means sitting under a tree and not thinking about anything at all. 

I’m very lucky to live in the Surrey Hills, an area that is protected because it’s full of amazing nature - from smooth snakes and natterjack toads to rare birds and butterflies. 

But to find nature, you don’t need to live in the countryside. It’s everywhere! In a back garden or a front yard, in parks or creeping up through pavement cracks, and in the skies above you. Look down! Look up! Stop a while and peer closer, and closer still, and nature will come to you.

Tags: Zanna's nature notes

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