In defence of the humble dandelion - Penny Snowden
As I look out of the window a sea of yellow is appearing before my eyes. My
lawn, actually more of a patch of very mossy grass, is being taken over by a
crop of dandelions. But despair not, I say, for dandelions are good for your
lawn. No really, I’ve looked it up!
Apparently their wide-spreading roots loosen hard-packed soil, aerate the
earth and help reduce erosion. The deep taproot pulls nutrients such as
calcium from deep in the soil and makes them available to other plants.
Dandelions actually fertilise the grass. So this means I don’t have to pull
Furthermore, botanist consider dandelions to be herbs and you can use the
leaves, stem, flower, and root for medicinal purposes. Dandelion-and-
burdock is a popular fizzy drink made in the north of England and the root has
also traditionally been used to make a coffee substitute. The leaves of the
plant are considered to be very nutritious and can be eaten as a salad or
fresh vegetable. In Asian cooking, for example, the leaves are used like
lettuce, boiled, made into soup or fried.
I’ve also discovered that the flower-buds can be added to omelettes and
fritters, the flowers baked into cakes, and even the pollen sprinkled on food
for decoration and colouring. Blossoms make a delicious country wine and
beer is brewed from the whole plant before it flowers.
The plant has been used as herbal medicine to treat wide-ranging conditions,
including stomach and liver complaints, diabetes, heart problems, anaemia,
respiratory ailments, consumption (tuberculosis), toothache, broken bones and sprains, sore eyes, cuts and nervousness. Even more reason to let them be!
Because it appears early in the spring the plant provides a rich source of
nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinating insects from early spring to
late autumn. Whether you love them or hate them, dandelions are among the
most familiar plants in the world. Mine bring many finches into the garden
too. So nature dictates that they should survive.
Even more exciting is that it is only in the twentieth century that humans
decided that the dandelion was a weed. Before the invention of lawns, the
golden blossoms and lion-toothed leaves were more likely to be praised as a
bounty of food, medicine and magic. And wait for it - gardeners used to
weed out the grass to make room for the dandelions!
Did you know that they are also very informative, as by blowing the seed
head or ‘clock’ you can find out the time of day or even how many years until
you get married or how many children you are going to have.
All this information has converted me into not getting rid of them. Even if I
haven’t converted you too don’t forget if you catch a flying dandelion seed
you can make a wish.
I would like to thanks Becky for enabling the blog to flourish over my leave and also to Penny and Sue for all their efforts throughout the year too. Thanks so much all of you - all stars!