Balloon flowers, also known as dandelion flowers, are famous for popping up during the spring season. The flower’s simplicity and wispiness makes it one of the most iconic aspects of nature. However, balloon flowers exist in a variety of other seasons and landscapes which makes them an interesting plant to study. The balloon flower is, as the name implies, a flower that inflates like a balloon when it blooms. The flower is made up of a calyx and two bracts that form the inflated ‘balloon’ shape. The fact that they are called ‘dandelion’ flowers makes them similar to dandelions not just because of their appearance, but also because of their scientific classification: some species of dandelion are also in the genus “Leucanthemum”.
Region Where They Are Found:
The genus has about 25 species and can be found in Europe, throughout Asia, North Africa and the northeastern regions of North America. It’s often found in meadows, grasslands, and even forests. This means that it is not necessarily an early spring flower as it can be found in other times of the year as well. The majority of these flowers are perennial, meaning they have lifespans more than two years. The flowers themselves are usually very small and small flowers, sometimes only a millimeter or two in height.
Time When They Bloom:
Balloon flowers typically bloom between mid-April and May in the Northern Hemisphere. In the spring, they often bloom in clusters of one to five balloons. After blooming, these flowers form on relatively weak stems that have several joints (a joint is where two stems intersect each other). They do not produce seeds, but instead spread by their roots. The plants can grow between 0.1 and 0.8 meters (one to thirty-two inches) in height and possess a maximum diameter of around one centimeter. They reside in the herb family known as Compositae, which includes many commonly known weeds such as dandelion.
Uses of Balloon Flowers:
Balloon flowers are very common in gardens. They are easily recognizable and are often selected by people who want to plant flowers in their lawns, flower beds, parks, and other regions. The flowers can be easily propagated by taking a cutting of the stems that have just bloomed. After they grow more mature (around two months from the time of taking the cutting), they will have to be watered frequently as they will not stop flowering. Fruit formation takes place at this stage and usually lasts for about six months on average.
The balloon flower does have a range of uses. In Europe, the leaves are used for making dyes for cloths, but also for ornamental purposes. The flowers themselves do not taste good, but can be crushed and used to make a sour beverage or cooked into soups. The leaves can also be used as a source of dye. In Asia, it is frequently used for the removal of wrinkles. In the Middle Ages, there was mention of its use in some kinds of birth control.
One interesting fact about balloon flowers is that they are able to produce hydrogen in their roots. It is when this hydrogen combines with oxygen that they die and become “balloons”. The flower also contains hydrocarbons, making it an extremely flammable plant as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do balloon flowers need deadheading?
There is some debate as to whether or not balloon flowers need to be deadheaded. However, in general they do. By removing the seedpods, you will be eliminating the source of seed that may cause issues in the future if they are left on.
Are balloon flowers an annual or perennial?
Balloon flowers are annual.
Can balloon flowers be grown from seed?
According to arkive, “Balloon flower seeds are not easily produced, but if they can, they produce plants that grow to a height of 30 cm and bear small white flowers.” They are also listed as being difficult to germinate. It is unclear whether or not the seeds can be germinated using standard methods for starting seeds in viability.
Why are they called balloon flowers?
“Balloon flower” is a generic term for several species of plants. The name seems to come from their shape, as well as their unusual habit of blooming when wind blows.
Are balloons toxic?
Dandelions and dandelion flowers are not toxic. However, some species mentioned above may be toxic. It depends on the individual plant. If you are unsure, it’s best to just not eat them.
Are Bellflower and balloon flower the same?
No, bellflower and balloon flower are not the same plants. They are both in the trumpet family (also in the dandelion genus) but there is a difference in their characteristics and uses.
Do balloon flowers attract moths or butterflies?
Balloon flowers do not attract as many moths or butterflies as other types of flowering plants. However, like most wildflowers, they provide nectar for honeybees and other beneficial insects that pollinate wildflowers.
Can balloon flowers be eaten?
No, do not eat the flowers of this plant. They are considered to be toxic and should be avoided.
Are bellflowers invasive?
Bellflowers are sometimes considered invasive in some areas due to the fact that they easily spread through rooting at their joints. Generally, though, they are not considered invasive.
The reason that the flower is called a ‘dandelion’ flower is because its scientific name, “Leucanthemum vulgare”, shares the same first two letters as dandelion. The two were once considered separate species, but are now difficult to distinguish. It is unknown how the flowers got their name or if there are any cultural consequences to this name. Probably many people have been referred to these flowers as ‘dandelions’ over time, so it is probably a common word among different cultures.
The balloon flower is a very interesting plant. Although it’s not as common as a dandelion, it still has a lot of historical value and uses. The fact that it has been able to survive in so many different environments while retaining its same basic appearance is quite amazing.