‘Hello, I’m a Dandelion’

A Dutch Facebook user’s cheery gardening post blossomed into a long-form text meme on the platform, as English-speaking users shared a translation celebrating dandelions.

Paula Kok – Den Boer first posted “Hello, I am a dandelion” on her Facebook page on April 29 2021, before republishing it on the gardening blog Tuindingen a little more than a week later.

But while the original post has been shared on Facebook thousands of times from her account, it has also been reported thousands of times more as “copypasta,” a chunk of text that has been copied and pasted by different people over and over again, usually by people either claiming credit for writing it or referencing memes or inside jokes.

However, this is one of those rare cares in which the copypasta is not only true, those sharing Den Boer’s work are also accurately crediting her as the original author. She writes:

When you see me, remember that I’m the ONLY one who wants and can grow in that particular spot. Because:
Either the soil is too compact / hard / stomped and I want to loosen it for you with my roots.

Or there is too little calcium in the soil – don’t worry, I will replenish that for you with the dying of my leaves.

Or the soil is too acidic. But I will also improve that for you if you give me the chance.

Or a mixture of the above reasons, of course.

That advice dovetails with the Old Time Farmers’ Almanac May 2021 note on the hardy weeds, which, as the book reiterated, “generally indicate poor soil that is low in calcium, as well as compacted. The dandelions’ taproots, however, are doing the job of breaking up the soil! Look into aerating your soil so it’s not compacted.”

Elsewhere in the post, Den Boer writes:

Something completely different is that I am 1 of the first bloomers in spring so I will announce spring / summer for you. During the day when it’s hot, I open my flowers, but in the evening when it cools down, I quickly close them again. In fact, if it’s not hot enough during the day I won’t open them at all!

My flowers are the first food for insects after hibernation and there where other plants OR pollen OR nectar, I have them both!

Here, again, her advice has been corroborated by experts; wildlife gardener and author Kate Bradbury called dandelions “the pollinator’s best friend” in a 2015 op-ed for The Guardian:

Each flower in fact consists of up to 100 florets, each one packed with nectar and pollen. This early, easily available source of food is a lifesaver for pollinators in spring.

Bumblebees, solitary bees and honeybees all visit dandelions for food, along with hoverflies, beetles, and butterflies such as the peacock and holly blue. Goldfinches and house sparrows eat the seed. Yet most of us gardeners miss out on the spectacle of watching wildlife feast on our dandelions, because we wage such a war against them as weeds.

Den Boer’s titular dandelion also notes to readers that its flowers “are even delicious for you people.” While individual tastes may vary, they are not only edible but also nutritious. A guide published by the University of Maine backs that claim up as well:

Despite the efforts of many to rid their lawns of them today, in the past the dandelion was held in much higher regard and recognized for its medicinal, aesthetic, and nutritive benefits. Named for their “lion-toothed” leaves (dent de lion in French means ‘lion’s tooth’), a salad of dandelion leaves is packed with valuable vitamins and minerals.

We contacted Den Boer seeking comment on the spread of her original post, and we will update when we hear back.