Mystery Image Contest: May 5-19, 2014


The common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a flowering plant native to Eurasia that is now found throughout much of the world in temperate regions. It is often considered a weed, though it is also used as a medicinal herb and dandelion greens can be used in cooking. Dandelions are well known for their method of seed dispersal: after a yellow dandelion flower matures, it turns into a spherical seed head covered with single-seeded fruits attached to "parachutes" of fine white hairs (often known as "blowballs"). A gust of wind will easily detach the dandelion seeds and the parachutes will allow each seed to travel long distances while airborne. The dandelion's ability to reproduce new plants far from the parent plant's location is what has allowed it to spread far and wide across the globe.


This image is of a bee pollinating a dandelion flower.

Photo Credit

Anne via Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/printemps_ete/5631680741

Winning Entry

Mrs. Prosen
LS Science Coordinator at Gill St. Bernard’s
New Jersey

For Educators

Teaching Support

You can use the image in this contest to begin a discussion with your students about the concepts surrounding Asthma & Allergies Awareness Month. Allergies and asthma are very common conditions, with at least three in four people developing an allergy at some point in their lives and more than 25 million people in the U.S. alone having asthma. Because there is more pollen from plants in the air during springtime, it is a common season for people to experience allergy symptoms. Pollen from wind-pollinated plants is perhaps the most common allergen, followed by dust and animal dander. When a person with allergies inhales an allergen, it triggers production of immunoglobin E (IgE) in his/her body, which causes allergy symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, increased mucus production, and inflammation of the nasal passages.

Allergens like pollen and animal dander, in addition to a variety of other irritants, can also cause asthma attacks. Asthma is a disease, unlike having allergies, whose cause is unclear and whose cure is still unknown. Having this disease can also be much more serious than having allergies, because asthma symptoms such as chest tightness and shortness of breath can be very dangerous and even life-threatening.

Take the rest of this month to focus on learning about allergies and asthma by visiting the Awareness Month website and using these Science NetLinks resources:

Related Resources

Asthma and Allergies
6-8 | LESSON
The Allergy Chronicles
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Anti-Asthma Bug
Antibiotics and Asthma
Asthma Patients
Peanut Acclimation
Asthma and Allergies: The Science Inside
6-12 | TOOL

Science NetLinks Mystery Image Contest Rules and Regulations

What Is the

Mystery Image Contest?

The Mystery Image Contest offers the chance to identify a science-related object based on a close-up picture of it.