Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ten Reasons to Love Dandelions

I snapped this picture today when I picked up Little Brother from preschool. It made me think of a Joe Mohr cartoon I saw recently over at Natural Papa, extolling the virtues of dandelions as a source of food for honeybees (and humans).

That got me thinking ... why do adults hate dandelions? As a kid, I loved dandelions. I liked their hollow stems. I loved blowing on their seeds. I used to tie their stems into knots and wear the flowers as rings.

But now, I react differently. A couple of days ago, when I saw a flash of yellow in my yard, I was excited until I realized that it wasn't a *real* flower, it was only a dandelion. My thoughts quickly turned: It might take over the yard!

And yet ... I kind of like dandelions. So, I thought I would post the top ten reasons that dandelions are awesome:

1) Dandelions remind us of childhood. Pick one and stick it in your lapel. Blow on the seeds (away from your yard!) and watch them drift away on the wind. It will remind you of a simpler time in your life.

2) Dandelions are persistent. They don't give up when we spray them. They dig their roots down deep and try again and again to grow (and thrive) in difficult places. (Just look at some of these enormous tools people have to use to get rid of them!)

3) Dandelions are harbingers of spring. You can't look at one and think of winter. They even look like little glowing suns.

4) Dandelions can add "zing" to your meals, according to this article -- with recipes -- from The Canadian Press. And according to the Alternative Medicine webpages of the University of Maryland Medical Center, "[d]andelion is a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, C, and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium, and zinc."

5) A couple of years ago, The Washington Post ran an article on how we can help the honeybees, which stressed that "bees love dandelions. You may want to leave some for them as a food source."

6) Dandelions have historically been used to treat a variety of ailments, from digestive disorders to fever and swelling. The leaves and roots are still used today in some alternative medicines.

7) Would you rather drink your dandelions? Dandelion tea and dandelion wine are both popular.

8) You can use dandelions as a teaching tool, as outlined in this article, Fun with Dandelions!. I especially like the suggestion that dandelions make a perfect first plant for a child to dig up, transplant into a pot, and take home to grow. We all know how hard dandelions are to kill. Why not use them for good?

9) The dandelion has inspired dandelion poetry, dandelion art and even "wearable wind power"!

10) Dandelion seeds provide food for birds, insects, and rodents. "Pigs, goats and rabbits will eat the [dandelion] plant," according to this Dandelion page from Columbia University's website. And I found this part of their summary particularly interesting: "The dandelion has a low ecological impact and provides no real damage to the ecosystem ... It seems only necessary to control the species when seen as an aesthetic problem or ‘weed’."

Is it time for us to change the way we think about dandelions? Lisa at 5 Orange Potatoes is on a campaign to Save the Dandelions!. Perhaps we should all join her ...

Photo credits: Mama Joules

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