Springtime is a great time to Save Weeds for the bees and other pollinators. Yes, you read that correctly! The dandelion in particular is especially easy to both see and identify with its large bright yellow blossoms. In our area, last summer, we had a shortage of pollinators for our fruit trees and tomato blossoms. Climate, chemicals and the weather did not help the pollinators at all. It's a good idea to leave the dandelions to flower before mowing the spring lawn. Read on for many reasons to leave the dandelions to “save the bees” and more:
"What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered."Ralph Waldo Emerson
What are Dandelions?
You may not know the following about the lowly Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) an Herb:
- Dandelions are very easy to grow, is often invasive and very hardy
- The flower, the leaves and the roots can all be eaten safely
- Historically young dandelion leaves were harvested by some First Nations and used also as medicine
- Here is some information and a recipe for "Dandelion Tempura"
- In New Zealand the Maori eat the leaves and shoots of the Puha - Sonchus Kirkii - plant which is member of the dandelion family.
- What is a Maori Hangi I can personally confirm its tastiness having eaten "Pork & Puha' at a Maori hangi
- This weed was called the "Lions Tooth"
- The plants are often the first to grow and flower early in Spring before the fruit blossoms
- Dandelion root can be dried and made into a tea if you are ambitious or simply buy "roasted Dandelion Root" at a local store. "Five Ways to Eat Dandelions"
- There is such a thing as "Dandelion Wine" if you are adventurous (lots of recipes online)
“If you find yourself worrying, go outside, take three breaths, address a tree and quietly say, ‘Thank you.’ If you can’t find a tree, a dandelion will do… Nature is magic.”Robert Bateman
Amazing Health Benefits of Planting Dandelions
Interestingly, as a side, there may be many possible health & other "benefits" from this humble weed such as:
- Contains antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
- Help lower blood pressure
- May improve health of the liver and kidneys
- Good for the immune system
- ... and there are many more benefits mentioned on line including "Dandelion and Common Purslane: Ubiquitous Edible Weeds" Penn State University (2021)
"When you look at a field of dandelions, you can either see a hundred weeds or a hundred wishes."Unknown
Project: A Dandelion Circle
Recently a friend left a circle of flowering "invasive creeping buttercup" in the middle of their back lawn. It was a lovely sight of bright yellow flowers in a partly shady yard which attracted the pollinators. So last year I made my own circle and planted dandelions. And my "Dandelion Circle" and I are participating in "NO Mow May" an adopted conservation charity idea from the UK.
When driving through commercial blueberry farms years ago I noticed that more than one farmer had intercropped dandelions between the rows of berries. Both the dandelions and blueberry bushes were in full bloom at the same time. Wonderful sight.
Most importantly - Bees love Dandelions!
"The only two herbicides we recommend are cultivation and mulching." ~ Organic Gardening
My thoughts before writing this article on dandelions was intended to be short and hopefully a little whimsical. So it has been interesting for me to learn that the dandelion has come a long way over the years and much of this information I was not aware of. Hope you have enjoyed learning something new and growing a dandelion or two. I have two pots of Dandelion Portable Pollinator pots which can also be useful
PS : It is also better for your lawn not to be 'mowed in May' as the weather in our area is still cold and often very rainy and this can damage your lawns ~ Best wishes with your Spring Veggie garden ~ Liz
Links & References:
- 2021 Agricultural Chemical Use - Fruit Crops - Blueberry. Captan & Fludioxonil
- Dandelion, Taraxacum officinale - Wisconsin Horticulture,
- Can You Eat Dandelions? (2021)
- "Why Do People Wish on Dandelions"
Caramel and Parsley
If eaten, the dandelion may have side effects, especially if you have allergies and also possible drug interactions