The sunny flower we love to hate
“I have lost my smile, but don’t worry. The dandelion has it.”- Nhat Hanh
We should leave them for the bees but still…. They take over. We feel obliged to dig them out! Poison them! Pour hot water or vinegar on them!
But they’re so much more than a bright yellow nuisance.
Most people are aware that dandelions are not only edible but super-nutritious. The leaves, roots and flowers can all be eaten and/or used in teas, salads, baking, and even as a substitute for coffee. There are a multitude of recipes for dandelion wine. Traditional medicinal uses in many countries include dandelion for liver and stomach problems, inflammation and cleansing and healing.
Today dandelions are being studied for their health benefits, chiefly for the liver and for inflammation. The flight of dandelion seeds has engineering applications because of the vortex they create to stay aloft. And that milky latex in the stems? It’s being converted to rubber and manufactured into tires.
Dandelions have been around for a long time. They’re native to Eurasia, and developed in disturbed sub-arctic regions before the last Ice Age. Then, as the glaciers retreated they spread across the landscapes left behind. As humans migrated into new areas, they left more disturbed areas and dandelions followed them.
Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and the Chinese all used dandelions in their herbal medicine.
As dandelion is well-known in Europe, it is thought that settlers brought them to North America… and the rest is history, as they say.
by Vachel Lindsay
O dandelion, rich and haughty,
King of village flowers!
Each day is coronation time,
You have no humble hours.
I like to see you bring a troop
To beat the blue-grass spears,
To scorn the lawn-mower that would be
Like fate’s triumphant shears.
Your yellow heads are cut away,
It seems your reign is o’er.
By noon you raise a sea of stars
More golden than before.