Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Dandelion Clock - how it works

A number of you have asked how the dandelion clock works. It used to be a sort of rite of passage for parents to teach their children about this custom - probably less so now, but I still see it being 'taught' from time to time.

So, imagine the scene - a very, very long time ago when the sun shone brightly every day from June through to August. My mother was taking me on a nature walk - another custom that is sadly dying out - and she picked a dandelion seed head. She said it was a clock and I should blow on it to make the seeds fly away. I was to keep count of the number of blows it took to remove all the seeds and each blow was an hour. For example, ten blows was ten o'clock and five blows would be five o'clock. There, easy when you know how!

That said, sometimes - no matter how hard you blew - two or three seeds remained and it was probably because the fairies were taking a day off - it also being known as a 'Fairy Clock'.

It was as well known as a parent holding a buttercup under your chin to see if you liked butter. If there was a yellow reflection on your skin, then you did! A fellow blogger has reprinted a victorian story that mentions the dandelion clock and it can be viewed by clicking here


  1. Thanks for the lovely explanation Laurie, I had glimpsed quickly the two posts below meaning to come back, and then got swept off with the flood of things to do (that never lets up, that flood)... I'd never heard of a dandelion clock before, and was wondering. Hmmm, I wonder what their degree of accuracy is, and has anyone ever done a study on it ???

    Hope you're enjoying a little respite now !

  2. Special times - those walks with Mom or Dad. Thanks for sharing your special ritual with your mother. I remember my mother holding the buttercup under my chin. Haven't thought of that in years. Thank you.

  3. I had never heard of the dandelion clock. Thank you for teaching me something today. Your photo of the dandelion is beautiful.

  4. Thanks, Laurie, for the dandelion clock: that's lovely. We were told it was a wishing flower: you closed your eyes, made a wish, and then blew hard on the flower. The number of blows it took to disperse all the seeds was how many years it would take for your wish to come true. I remember the buttercup. Thanks for these memories, Laurie.

  5. I've never heard of the Dandelion Clock til now and enjoyed it so much! Do you pick the daisy petals all the while saying "he loves me, he loves me not"? Lovely photos :)