Abstract Detail



Ethnobotany

Struwe, Lena [1].

The love and hate of dandelions: The botanical background for symbolism of dandelions in contemporary society.

Of all weedy plants in the Northern Hemisphere, dandelions are likely simultaneously the most beloved and the most hated.  The common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a ubiquitous species in worldwide urban, suburban, and rural areas alike and a well-known plant by most people, including those who otherwise have no botanical education.  Its biological and visual features have led the dandelion to become a commonly used symbol associated with many strong human feelings, from hope and dream fulfillment, invasion and travel, to rebellion and politics, and other human issues not directly related to biology.  The focus of this talk is a quick evaluation and discussion of the contemporary (1950-onwards) symbology and use of dandelions, especially when it comes to commerce, advertisement, and design. The symbolic values and their close linkage to morphological features of this plant will be highlighted, showing a close connection between the evolution of biological plant features associated with weediness and our abstract and real-life issues in contemporary  human life.  My analysis of visual and verbal symbology of dandelions in contemporary media (printed and digital, including social media), products for sale and advertisements, comics and memes, and other public displays and objects show that dandelions are used as positive, negative, or neutral value markers and in both verbal and visual semiotics.  It appears that dandelions are simultaneously connected to our innermost hopeful dreams and worst fears.  This is the first study that connects the contemporary symbolism of dandelions in the marketplace to the biological features of the living organism.


1 - Rutgers University, Ecology, Evolution And Natural Resources, 59 Dudley Road, Foran Hall Rm 237, New Brunswick, NJ, 08901, United States

Keywords:
Asteraceae
Outreach
weeds
Ethnobotany
semiotics
morphology
contemporary ethnobotany
media
science communication.

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Number:
Abstract ID:323
Candidate for Awards:None


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