Any day now our lawns will be covered with cheery, yellow dandelions and the bees will be happy to see one of their earliest sources of nectar and pollen back again.
Meanwhile, many homeowners are starting to fret and prepare for the impending battle with the noxious weed. North Americans spend billions devising ways, short of carpet bombing, to make the ubiquitous dandelion go away.
The dandelion evolved about 30 millions years ago. We have the early settlers to thank for bringing the dandelion to North America. It has been used as medicine and food for much of recorded history. All parts of the plant are useful; flowers, leaves and roots. The leaves, in early spring, before the flower emerges, are tender and can be used in salads or sauteed or stir fried.
Dandelions are a rich source of vitamins A, C and K and of calcium, potassium and iron.
The powerful tap root drills through clay and breaks up compacted soil bringing nutrients up to shallow-rooted plants. By finding tiny cracks and using their super-powers, dandelions bust free through concrete and asphalt and emerge victorious, presenting their sunny faces to the fresh air at the edge of our parking lots and at sidewalk cracks.
One way of cohabiting more peacefully with the dandelions growing on our lawns is to mow the grass frequently at 3” to 4” thereby cutting off the flower heads and causing the leaves to be shaded by the competing grass.
In this time of grocery shopping avoidance, just this one time, instead of choosing the California clam-shell spinach, try picking the lowly dandelion in your back yard for your stir fry or salad, or for a mineral-rich tea.
Try it, try it, you might see….maybe you’ll learn to love the pesky weed.
If not, I hope at the least, Dear Reader, you will find the adaptability, usefulness, tenacity and perseverance of the dandelion demonstrates in adverse conditions, both inspiring and cause for optimism.