Collecting the folklore and uses of plants

QUERY: Dandelion, piss-a-beds

Posted on by royvickery |

The belief that picking dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) will cause pickers to wet their beds is widespread in the British Isles, leading to such names as mess-a-bed, pee-a-bed and pish-th’-bed. The following note suggests that this belief is widespread elsewhere:
I was born in 1989 in Cesena (FC), in the region of Emilia-Romagna, in northeast Italy. The dandelion is known in Italian as dente di leone (lion’s tooth), soffione (the translation is more difficult in this case, I will say big puff) or tarassaco. I remember that when I was a kid everyone was a bit afraid of touching it, because it was supposed to make you wet the bed at night. For that reason it was also callied piscialetto (pee-in-bed). From what I remember, the wetting effect was only related to the yellow flower, not to the white fluffy seeds. So we used to pick the seedheads and tried to blow away all the seeds away with one puff, because this was considered to bring you good luck.

Information of similar beliefs, or names, from elsewhere would be appreciated; please send it to

1. I always thought the French for dandelions was dents de lion, but in fact the French call them pissenlit, or ‘wet the bed’ [Childwall, Liverpool, October 2013].

Image: Kohler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen, 1883-7.

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