A couple of days ago my friend posted a photo on Facebook of her granddaughter picking dandelions. The little girl looked like she thought those dandelions were the most beautiful flowers in the world. That got me thinking about how we always malign dandelions. “Aren’t there some good things about them?” I wondered. I decided to look for positives about dandelions and make a list.
1. Dandelions have lots of health benefits and have a long history in the healing arts. Long ago dandelions were prescribed for a whole raft of ailments. Today herbalists are exploring ways that the dandelion may be helpful in combating cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and skin damage, reducing heartburn, protecting bones and improving brain function.
2. Dandelions are good for your lawn. Their roots spread out to help ease erosion, aerate and loosen the earth and pull nutrients out of the soil and make them available to the grass around them. Dandelions actually act as a fertilizer for your lawn.
3. Dandelions provide food for bees and butterflies. They are rich in both pollen and nectar. All kinds of birds, a host of different species of mammals and even domesticated farm animals eat different parts of the dandelion.
4. Every part of a dandelion is edible from the roots to the blooms. You can dip the flowers in batter and fry them or use them to make dandelion wine. You can sauté the leaves with ginger and have them as a vegetable dish or chop them up and put them in a salad. The roots can be brewed to make a caffeine free coffee. I even found a recipe for tossing pasta with chopped up dandelion stems.
5. Dandelions are early bloomers so they add a pop of colour to the landscape which can be grey and drab before other things begin to flower.
6. Dandelions have a long and important history. The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Chinese have all used dandelions as part of their traditional medicinal collections for over a thousand years. Historians think dandelions may have come to North America with the Pilgrim settlers who brought them along for their medicinal benefits. Long ago Japan had horticultural societies devoted to dandelions. The plant was once world famous for its beauty and Europeans treasured it as a beloved garden flower even making dandelions the subject of poems. It is only in the 20th century that dandelions came to be seen as a nuisance weed.
7. Did you know German and American scientists funded by the Bridgestone Corporation are trying to discover a way to turn the milky white root sap from the Russian dandelion into rubber?
8. Dandelions are a kind of natural calendar. When we see them blooming we know its spring. They are also a kind of natural clock because they open in the morning and close in the evening.
9. Dandelions are fun. Once they have gone to seed you can blow on them and make a wish. Kids can make dandelion chains and use the flowers for print making. I even found a recipe online for making dandelion play dough.
10. Dandelions can be a source of wisdom. They remind us ………..
To treat everyone with respect because everyone’s life serves a purpose.
You can survive even in the harshest of conditions.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Be stubborn in your commitment to grow.
Proclaim your presence with confidence.
After compiling this list I realize dandelions don’t deserve their negative image. There are lots of great things about them!