Do they really need defending, yes! Every spring when the dandelions return, so do their detractors.
It would seem that dandelions are doing just fine–certainly not endangered. And we are more environmentally aware these days, aren’t we? We know how harmful weed killers and pesticides can be! In fact, in Oak Park, you can’t use them at all. The “perfect lawn” is no longer the ideal it once was. Would you want poisons where children and pets will be playing? No, of course not!
So, the dandelions thrive among the clover and violets in the grass, here. But they are more than tenacious survivors, cheery nonconformists among the uniformity of green.
Dandelions have a history of medicinal uses. In The Complete Medicinal Herbal (Dorling-Kindersley, 1993, p. 103), Penelope Ody says the dandelion was “a relatively recent addition to the medicinal repertoire…in Europe it first appears in a European herbal, the Ortus Sanitatis in 1485.” That’s an impressive history to me!
Ms. Ody notes that dandelion roots, leaves and flowers are an effective liver and digestive tonic. Also diuretic, the leaves are rich in potassium. The long tap root (so resistant to the dandelion digger!) can be harvested in the fall and used as a liver stimulant, as well as a tonic for gallstones and jaundice. Even the sap from the stems has been used as a remedy for warts.
But you don’t have to be an herbalist to appreciate the dandelion. Before the flowers appear, the young greens make a tangy salad. Next spring, you could add them to that spring mix. As for the flowers, you can still make your own dandelion wine!
One more thing–I found this in Wikipedia–Dandelions are important plants for bees! They are one of the first sources of nourishment for the hive as it emerges from the winter, providing much-needed nectar and pollen early in the spring.
So, when you think of dandelions, remember the bees.
Can you imagine fields of dandelions? Can you imagine dandelion honey?
And aren’t they a favorite of kids of all ages, so round and yellow like the sun, so easy to draw—-a child’s flower? An elixer of youth perhaps, a medicine for melancholy.
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