While the meaning of the white tulip remains somewhat mysterious, the significance of the dandelion as an emblem on Fringe is a little easier to grasp.
First of all, the dandelion is a flower that belongs specifically to Etta, since we see her playing with them at the start of the 5th season. It’s her favorite memory, the one she saw when she died in the Observer timeline.
The dandelion also represents survival under harsh circumstances, which not only describes Etta’s survival into adulthood in the cruel world of 2036, but the survival of the Bishop family. This leads us to another important observation – the dandelion doesn’t just survive under harsh conditions and prejudice against it, but thrives. The dandelion is probably the most successful flower (“weed”) in the world, and part of that is because its seed dispersal system (so loved by little girls) is highly successful. Etta herself is the “seed dispersal” of the Bishop family – at least, the only Bishop heir who has apparently survived. I also think all Fringe fans can be proud that their show survived under extremely harsh circumstances.
Another very Fringe-y aspect of the dandelion is that it is a transforming flower. It starts off looking one way, and then it appears to die, and then it is reborn again and mysteriously becomes a completely different color and form! The dandelion is the shapeshifter of flowers.
This is just what Fringe is as well. Every season, the show turned into something different. Especially during its final season, when it was very much different than anything that came before. Season 5 of Fringe was its final “going to seed.” I believe that the hope was that, although its time on Fox was at an end, that the seeds would go out everywhere; and that the dandelion would, in a way, live on.
The last thing about the dandelion is that it is an expansive flower. Every seed is designed to be carried away as far as possible. Fringe had all sorts of science fiction ideas that went in every conceivable direction. Many characters, many stories, different universes, different timelines. As for the Fringe fans, even now, Netflix is carrying the show to a new audience…
While I think Etta was naturally attracted to dandelions because of who she is, I also like to think that Walter told her some interesting things about dandelions before he had to disappear, such as how they change form and how their seeds travel very far away.
As for the white tulip, I also think that Etta, not knowing much about the white tulip or its significance, might have been mistakenly attracted to it because of her childhood love for dandelions. And well, it does sort of looks a little bit like a dandelion, in a way (it’s round… it’s white…) She wouldn’t think that it could be something quite different and not what she — or anyone — might assume it is.
But even if the unthinkable happened, I think Etta would still travel far, like a dandelion seed.