They strike fear into the hearts of lawn lovers. Sending even the most rational individuals into fits of rage; driving them to hack, pry and spray the plants into submission…only to find, a few weeks later, their sunny yellow faces popping up to say hello, like a never ending game of Whac-a-Mole.
It wasn’t always this way. The “dent de lion” (tooth of the lion) is thought to have first arrived in North America via the Mayflower, in 1620, brought along for its medicinal benefits. For centuries before that they were used in food, wine and to treat liver and digestive ailments and even scurvy. Today, the Dandelion is praised for its abundance of Vitamins A, C, iron, calcium and potassium. Researchers in Europe are even developing a car tire prototype made from Dandelion-rubber.
Despite the cries of ‘weed!’ Dandelions can be very helpful in the garden. Their large taproots (up to 15ft) add nitrogen and minerals to soil and draw nutrients up to shallow-rooted plants. They are also one of the first available sources of pollen and nectar in the spring, a welcome sight for pollinators desperate to break their winter fast.
Though your neighbours may revolt against a lovely yellow carpet of Dandelions, we urge you to consider leaving a few of these flowers scattered around your yard to provide a little early-season forage for the bees and butterflies. Before they go to seed, pluck a few flowers for tea, leaves for salad or just for fun, if it makes you feel better.