Early in the spring bright cheery yellow flowers seem to pop up everywhere. We picked them as kids and lovingly gave our moms Dandelion bouquets. When the yellow flower went to seed it was so much fun sucking in our breath and blowing on the fluffy seed heads and watch them become airborne as the wind carried them upward in the sunny blue sky.
But then we became adults and lost our childhood innocence and we were told the bright yellow flower was evil, a pest, and must be eradicated at all costs! Someone told us we must have perfectly green lawns void of any wildflower big or small. The endless sea of bluegrass must be maintained! Of all the wildflowers in the lawn, the Dandelion is the most despicable and it must be destroyed. The Dandelion is our enemy! If not destroyed, neighbors will get angry, the Neighborhood Association will be called and fines issued. Horrors of horrors someone may call the City and report you have a field of weeds!
Americans spend millions of dollars every year on a host of herbicides to kill the wicked weed. Of course the poison is in our grass where children play, pets run, and where we run barefoot and track the poison in our homes on our shoes. The toxic run off pollutes our ground water, streams and rivers. Then we turn around and drink the water. Then we scratch our heads and wonder why cancer and other aliments seem to be increasing at an alarming rate. And not least, it is certainly not good for birds, bees, fish and other wildlife.
Over thirty species of wildlife feast on Dandelions. Several birds, including song birds such as goldfinches and sparrows eat the seeds. Other animals like wild turkeys, rabbits, deer, and chipmunks feast on Dandelions.
Over ninety species of insects collect and drink Dandelion nectar. If you want bees and several species of butterflies such as the Sulphur’s, and the Admirals to soar around in your yard, leave the Dandelions be and let them grow!
What is wrong with us? Why are we so willing to spend millions of dollars and poison ourselves and our planet just to get rid of bright yellow flowers? It is so crazy!
The dandelion wasn’t always so hated. Our forefathers held the Dandelion in high esteem. It was used for both food and medical purposes.
My mom has told me stories of how her and her father would gather up fresh green dandelion leaves in early spring and cook them with bacon grease for wilted greens. Sometimes they would use the leaves and flowers in a fresh salad. Scientist tell us Dandelion leaves are full of Vitamin A, higher in beta carotene (even more than carrots) and calcium (more than spinach) They are provide iron, and all the B Vitamins, and Vitamins C and D. Wine is made from the flowers and a coffee substitute is made from the roots as well as used in soups as a root vegetable.
When I was younger I would watch a lawn company come to my neighbor’s home and spray poison on her lawn several times during the growing season. The herbicide people wore masks and wore white footies over their shoes. Then they placed little flags around the parameter of her yard warning people the lawn had been sprayed. Even as a young person I questioned the sanity of it all. While there may be no correlation, both my neighbor and her cat died of cancer.
It is so ironic that so many feel the Dandelion is “Public Enemy #1!” But in reality what we are doing to eradicate the bright yellow Dandelion wildflower, poisoning ourselves, wildlife, and polluting our water makes us our own worse enemy!