April 25, 2012 § 2 Comments
I’ve known for quite a while that dandelions have some valuable characteristics. No, they are not native to the U.S. and yes, they have invasive tendencies. But did you know: that this plant growing freely in your yard has edible leaves, rich with vitamins and minerals? That the flower petals can be used to make dandelion wine? That the root can be roasted and made into dandelion coffee, or put into a supplement, rumored to aid in clearing skin? (I actually took this supplement for several years and found that it did, in fact, make a difference).
Still, there is that cultured instinctive response to see dandelions in a yard and want to remove them, isn’t there? We didn’t put the plant there and so we don’t want it to be there. Rather than taking advantage of this abundant and hardy little flower, we go to great (and sometimes toxic) efforts to eradicate it. I confess that I wouldn’t want dandelions in the middle of my carefully planned scenic garden, just as many people don’t want it in their well-groomed lawns. I’ve pulled dandelions out of many a vegetable plot. But when we pull it out, could we make a point of using it, at least sometimes? Can we go back even a little bit to our foraging ways?
In all honestly, I hardly ever do anything with the plucky little dandelion (the first picked flower of many a child – isn’t that enough to endear it to us?). I sort of ignore it, other than appreciating those conveniently bottled, easily popped supplements that made my skin so nice. Until now, when I find myself appreciating each bright, sunny, nectar-offering bloom. You know why? Because approximately 9,000 New World Carniolan bees now live several yards from me, and it is early spring, and they need to build comb and start building up their brood. And the dandelion is one of the first spring flowers. We are feeding our bees a bit of fondant and sugar-water and pollen patty to help them get started, but the real nectar is the best stuff. And who’s there? The dandelion.
So, dandelion, with your sunny face, you may grow widely and well in my lawn, and down along the path, and all around the beehives. My bees need you; and as you share your sweetness with them, I hope they’ll one day be able to share theirs with me!