Friday, February 4, 2011

Dandelions: Friend or Foe?


Simple and fresh and fair from winter's close emerging,
Forth from its sunny nook of shelter'd grass —
Innocent, golden, calm as the dawn,
The spring's first dandelion shows its trustful face.

— Walt Whitman

It won't be long before dandelions start poking their heads through the leaves, announcing the arrival of Spring.

I almost stepped on this one last Spring as I was on my way to photograph something else, but I happened to look down just in time.


As I knelt down to get a closer look through my camera lens, I was so glad I took the time to stop and capture the flower nestled in the grass and leaves.


I know dandelions are considered a weed and a nuisance by most gardeners, but, upon researching them, I found that they have redeeming qualities, and are actually a beneficial weed, with a wide range of uses.

A dandelion's ability to break up hard earth with its deep tap root, bringing up nutrients from below the reach of other plants, makes it a good companion for weaker or shallower-rooted crops. It is also known to attract bees, offering an important source of nectar early in the season.

Dandelion roots, leaves, and buds contain abundant amounts of vitamins and minerals and have been used for centuries in traditional medicine and medicinal teas. The USDA ranks dandelions among the top four green vegetables for their nutritive value. They are the third highest food source for Vitamin A, and contain twice as much Calcium as spinach.

They have been used to treat weight loss, cirrhosis of the liver, congestive heart failure, intestinal problems, liver spots, acne, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even cancer.

So, the next time you pull up dandelions, remember that they aren't all bad. You might also keep in mind that the taproot runs deep (up to 10' long), and is twisted, and brittle. If you break off more pieces than you unearth, the pieces that remain in the ground will regenerate a new little patch of dandelions.

I hope this has inspired you to think of dandelions in a new light. I prefer to think of them as "messengers of Spring" ... and after the unusually harsh winter we've had here in Mississippi, we will welcome any sign that Spring is on the way.

7 comments:

Jenni said...

Interesting.....

Have an awesome day,

Jenni

racheld said...

I cannot find it in my heart NOT to love a Dan-Deal-yun. The bright yellow punctuates the Fairy Dell's carpet of purple violets with the absolute of complementary colors, and even the big ole puffs seeding their nuisance into the wind---those are beautiful, too. And endlessly entertaining.

I also LOVE the Springtime columns of the Amish cooks and the Euel Gibbons devotees, with their making of the dandelion greens into a tonic-on-a fork, or a salad wilted with bacon fat and tiny circles of green onions and a similar punctuation of perhaps a hard-boiled egg in the vinegary tang of the dressing. Just what the Winter-long need for GREEN ordered.

Oh, yes. Dandealyuns. I love them, too. And not just for lookin' at.

Stacey said...

Such a pretty little yellow flower but most definitely not welcomed in my yard.

Tonja said...

I have probably recieved at least 100 from grubby little hands. Then they go through a button hole, and by luch time they are shrivled into a limp mess.

It's the giving, though...

racheld said...

Janie---Hello!!

Just checking to see if everything is all right down there---we'd heard you were in for a bad storm of some kind.

Perhaps I just didn't post my comment correctly yesterday, and that's why it hasn't appeared---I hope so.

I REALLY hope you're out in the bright sunshine with your camera!

rachel

Deb said...

I didn't know all that about dandelions...great information

Pat said...

Plus, when they go to seed, they provide entertainment for children and the young at heart.

Wonderful post, Janie!