THE DANDELION

While the Common Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) probably originated in Europe, it is now a cosmopolitan traveller that has settled around the world. In South Africa these flowers are commonly seen growing in lawns, along paths, pavements and road verges, as well as next to road verges. Despite the well-documented culinary and medicinal uses of dandelions, they are mostly regarded as weeds. Thanks to their long flowering period, dandelions also provide a ready supply of nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinators, often when little else is available. I enjoy seeing the bright yellow dandelion flowers that pop up in our garden.

They are survivors – as this poem by Vachel Lindsay illustrates so well:

The Dandelion

O dandelion, rich and haughty,
  King of village flowers!
  Each day is coronation time,
  You have no humble hours.
  I like to see you bring a troop
  To beat the blue-grass spears,
  To scorn the lawn-mower that would be
  Like fate’s triumphant shears.
  Your yellow heads are cut away,
  It seems your reign is o’er.
  By noon you raise a sea of stars
  More golden than before.

28 thoughts on “THE DANDELION

    • The internet is filled with ideas of how to use these plants. I don’t have enough growing here to try out any of them, yet it is good to know that they can be more than ‘just a weed’.

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  1. Absolutely survivors! My grandmother, who grew up on a potato farm in northern Maine, loved eating the greens in the spring. I expect that by spring, fresh food on the farm was in pretty short supply, and how good those greens must have tasted.

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  2. I like seeing them too and never understood city people who spend hours plucking every single one out of their lawn (pesticides are now outlawed here except for farm use with a license), so it’s good to know that about the bees and pollen. A few dandelions don’t bother me, but on the farm we had hundreds on the lawn.

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    • I am glad to learn that pesticides may not be used willy-nilly where you are. I can imagine that they would not be welcomed en masse in a lawn, especially if the owner envisions a ‘manicured’ lawn.

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      • Yes, pesticides have fallen out of favor, but now I have a lawn infested with Creeping Charlie but nothing to kill it with, so I just let it creep….really a manicured lawn does not interest me at all, nor a few weeds among the flower beds. Growing up on a farm you learn not to obsessive about stuff like that.

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  3. We get them in early May, then they go to seed by the end of May. I like them when they’re colorful, not as much when they are wispy. Right now, here in SE Michigan, we have the fuzz from the Poplar trees. It areas where there are many trees, it looks like snow covering the ground sometimes.

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