Dandelion as pluriverse

Southbank of Arnhem, the Netherlands

In spring 2019, the Onkruidenier was invited to bring their artistic fieldwork methods to a new research area; the green space of Malburgen in Arnhem South. The Malburgen district has more than 100 street names with plants, but this does not resonate directly visibly in the public green space. Due to the current maintenance level class C of the green space in Arnhem Zuid, the plant composition of the neighbourhood is not very diverse. In April, however, all the lawns turn golden yellow with countless dandelions. This overwhelming display is a phenomenon we had not observed on this scale before in the city.

To better understand the dandelion, we got in touch with botanist Karst Meijer. Since 1981, Karst has been researching different dandelions. Different dandelions? Surely a dandelion is just a dandelion! Karst told us that some 250 different dandelions grow in the Netherlands alone and over 2,500 are estimated worldwide.

In Wolvega, Karst set up the Herbarium Frisicum. That’s where de Onkruidenier first met Karts. We became entangled in the polyculture of the dandelion, a world of different species of dandelions that we can discover in the Netherlands and around the world. Dandelions and the diversity in the pluriverse still find little recognition among humans. Because the different species are not easily distinguishable, the species tend to be lumped together.

Dandelions are plants that feel at home in close proximity to humans. You can find them among the pavement, in the garden, lawn, meadow or shrubbery. They are often not welcome guests in the domain of farming or gardening humans. Despite man’s controlling behaviour, plants possess unprecedented resilience, but unfortunately many species are also under pressure. Their specific habitat or habitats are declining sharply. In rural areas, many pastures have become homogenous in composition.
Recognising dandelions when talking about the generic characteristics such as yellow ribbon flowers, lobed leaves or parachute-shaped seed fluff is an easy entry level for many.To learn to recognise different dandelions, you can start with the most common species in the Netherlands. These are divided into 10 sections, each with their own characteristics that you can best and actually only distinguish during the flowering period (roughly from mid-March to mid-May).

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