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:
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.