Dandelion Seed Pod Games

Dandelion seed pods used to be referred to as "the rustic oracle".  Dandelions seed pods were also called "down-balls", "balls of down" (they look like down feathers) and "blow-balls" (since they’re balls of seeds that you blow on).

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Kids have been making wishes on dandelion seed pods for years.  You simply find a dandelion pod that’s full of seeds.  Then make a wish and blow on it.  Make sure you blow all the seeds out of the pod.  Some people believe if you get all the seeds off in one breath, your chances improve that your wish will come true.

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The word dandelion originally comes from the French phrase for lion’s tooth, "dent de lion".  That’s because the edges of the flowers look a bit like teeth…

Photo of a Young Dandelion Flower

The phrase lion’s tooth may have also come from the plants jagged leaves…

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The idea of the dandelion seed pod having special "powers" can be found in books dating back to the 1850’s:

The globes formed by the seeds of the Dandelion are used for other purposes. If you are separated from the object of your love [your girlfriend or boyfriend], pluck one of those feathery spheres [seed pods], charge each of the little feathers with a tender thought; turn toward the spot where the loved one dwells; blow, and the aerial travellers will faithfully convey your secret message to his or her feet. If you wish to know if that dear one is thinking of you, blow again; and if a single aigrette [seed] is left upon the stalk, it is a proof that you are not forgotten.

From: The language of flowers: The floral offering: a token of affection and and esteem; comprising the language and poetry of flowers (1852) By Henrietta Dumont.

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Please let us know of any special meanings or games with dandelion seeds where you live in the comments below.

Mama Lisa

This article was posted on Monday, May 9th, 2011 at 5:10 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, Dandelion Game, Divination, England, English, Games Around the World, Games for Predicting the Future, Games for Wishing for the Future, Languages, USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

3 Responses to “Dandelion Seed Pod Games”

  1. Lisa Yannucci Says:

    Regarding the word dandelion, I found reference to it in the Oxford English Dictionary that goes back to the 1500’s. Here are some entries from the OED on this word:

    1513 Douglas Æneis xii. Prol. 119 Seyr downis smaill on dent de lion sprang.

    1578 Lyte Dodoens v. xvi. 569 The seconde kinde is called..in shoppes Dens leonis.. in French Pisse-en-lict.. in Englishe Dandelyon.

    1692 Tryon Good House-w. xxii. (ed. 2) 216 Our Herb called Dandelion (that is in English, Lyons Tooth, because of the similitude of its Leaf).

    Here’s the OED’s entry on blow-ball:

    blow-ball, the globular seeding head of the dandelion and allied plants.

  2. Monique Says:

    We play this game in France too. We do it the same way. You need to blow all the pods to see your wish come true.

    Dandelions were called “dent de lion” in the singular (dents de lion in the plural) in France. The fact that “pissenlit” is now the most common name is because it has diuretic properties [i.e. making you go to the bathroom more]. Why did it come to be the most common name? I really don’t know, maybe because “pissenlit” says what it’s useful for, which is more important to know than its having tooth-like edges.

    FYI The phrase, “manger les pissenlits par la racine” -to eat the dandelions (starting) from the root- is the French equivalent to “pushing up daisies”.

  3. Lisa Says:

    Susana Moreira wrote from Portugal:

    “I love dandelions, they grow wildly over here and are literally called ‘Lion’s tooth = dente de leão’. It’s a very unique herb, you can use almost every part of it (i use the leaves to mix on salads sometimes) and it’s part of my childhood cause we used to pick up the fluffy version and holding it up we would ask ‘is your father bold or does he have hair?’, then we would blow it and if it got it clean… well… father was surely bald (even if not actually, lolololo ;l)”

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