WOOOHOOO! The Dandelion is here!!!!
We just came home from the store and I have 4 beautiful yellow flowers in my yard. Now many who read this might think I am out of my ever lovin’ mind. And 4 years ago I would have agreed with you.
They are a tenacious weed (term used loosely) that exist almost universally across the United States in the city and in the country and many other places around the world. In fact the name Dandelion comes from the French “Dent de Lion” meaning teeth of the lion. If you view the edge of the flower petals very closely they resemble a row of teeth with canines and incisors.
I’m guessing that if you dislike Dandelions you don’t raise bees, you don’t have a garden, you don’t eat (or know how to eat) them or you are not fondly familiar with Dandelion wine.
This little plant is usually the first naturally occurring ground flower of spring and therefore is a very important source of nectar and pollen for our hungry bees coming out of the hives after consuming honey all winter. The food the Dandelions supply the bees is very important. We do have blossoming trees at this time but in areas with few flowering trees the Dandelion makes its annual appearance to save the season.
There are many culinary opportunities to consume the plant as well. Almost everyone has heard that Dandelion leaves are good in salad but very few people have tried it before forming an opinion on whether they like it or not. I found a rather extensive list of recipes that include Dandelion. I encourage you to peruse the list and pick one to try. See what you think about this free crop.
A word of caution: Roadside Dandelions are filthy from dirt and car exhaust and other debris. Dandelions in parks, schools and many privately owned areas get sprayed with herbicide. If you don’t know if they are clean and safe
DON’T EAT THEM.
I have never made or even tried Dandelion Wine or Dandelion Mead (honey wine) but it is something I am going to try if I can find a place or two to harvest a few pounds of Dandelion flowers in a one or two-day period. I am a big fan of homemade pear mead and I’m hoping to make a gallon of Dandelion mead to compare it with. I’m thinking for my first batch I am going to try a subtle flavor. If It proves tasty I will go for a stronger flavor next year.
I’m hoping a few of you reading this will find a place in your heart for the durable little flower. We have come to dislike it by default because it wrecks our lawn. But really, when viewed objectively, it does way more than we give it credit for and it never asks for help. If by some chance you hate gardening but are reading this gardening blog, learn to use Dandelions and you will never have to plant, water, hoe, weed, cultivate, rake or shovel and you will always have a free springtime crop.