A man who took great pride in his lawn found himself with a large crop of dandelions. He tried every method he knew to get rid of them. Still they plagued him. Finally he wrote the department of agriculture. He enumerated all the things he had tried and closed his letter with the question: What shall I do now? In due course the reply came: We suggest you learn to love them. — Anthony de Mell

The lowly dandelion has been vilified for decades as an enemy in the American quest for a perfect lawn. Now, health risks associated with weed killer, concerns for the future of honeybees and other pollinators, and the beginning of a paradigm shift away from perfectly manicured grass to more sustainable, functional, drought-tolerant outdoor spaces, the dandelion is experiencing a bit of a reprieve.

Dandelions are one of the first plants to appear in the spring, and one of the earliest flowering plants for bees and other pollinators. They’re good for humans, too. Every part of the dandelion has well-documented nutritional or medicinal properties. You can find dandelion tea on the shelves of most grocery stores and tinctures and supplements made from dried dandelion roots and leaves in health food stores.

Or you can find an unadulterated patch of dandelions and collect your own.

The leaves are edible and can be added to salad and eaten raw or steamed like spinach or other greens. The roots are edible, too, and can be consumed like other root vegetables. The showy yellow flowers can be turned into “dandelion honey” — a kind of simple syrup, or with a little time and patience, made into dandelion wine.

Recipes abound, some of them from cultures as old as the ancient Egyptians. Even in the 1800s in America, dandelions were showcased at county fairs, and seed books sold dandelion seeds for cultivation.

Since “landscaped lawns” became a status symbol in the last century, homeowners have been trying to eradicate dandelions with every tool in their arsenals. And yet the dandelions continue to thrive and survive despite suburbia’s best efforts to do them in

By CAITLIN WALKER | caitlin@theheraldtimes.com

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