With the coming of spring thaw comes the arrival of pretty yellow flowers on long green stems. Out stretched leaves at its base resemble teeth. This plant is both loved and hated. This is the dandelion. Classified as a noxious weed, dandelions have gained a reputation for being stubborn when trying to eradicate them from lush green lawns.
The common dandelion arrived in North America from Europe. It is assumed, likely correctly, to have hitched a ride across the Atlantic with the Colonist. Once arriving and finding growing conditions favorable, it spread rapidly until today they are found across the continent in temperate climate areas.
Getting a Bad Rap
Common dandelions may have received a bad rap. European history makes clear dandelions were used for medicinal purposes. Its scientific name - Taraxacum Officinale, which in French means; Official Remedy for Disorders. This may be the reason annihilation of the dandelion weed, or plant has such high priority. If it has natural medicinal benefits, it could pose a threat to profit margins of non-natural medicines.
A quick inspection of a noxious weed chart reveals this plant as a noxious weed. It does have the ability to make life very uncomfortable for both animal and man, if eaten in quantity. Trips to the restroom will take up the major part of eaters day. However, a number of benefits are found in this plant.
Eating Dandelion Plants
If leaves of a young and tender dandelion are picked, before it flowers, they can be eaten in salads raw or cooked. According to an article that can be found at; www.gardensalive.com/article.asp?=964; “eating ½ cup serving supplies 300% of the RDA of the cancer fighting nutrient beta-carotene – plus nice amounts of vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and potassium”. This is according to Mike, the author of the article quoted. He goes on to discuss ways to cook this unwanted weed marked for destruction.
Old timers and some of our grandparents have spoken of eating dandelion salads, and dandelion greens. Researchers may have come across a recipe for a green casserole made from this weed mixed with other leafy vegetables or it may be the only green required. In any case, it no doubt has its pros and cons.
Removing the Weeds
Even though it may have serious positive benefits, many people demand this plant leave their lawns and go to sizeable expense to see it gone. In some cases, ridding one’s lawn of the plant that produces pretty yellow flowers is a job to be done by hand. Some people get down on the ground and dig out each plant with a hand tool. Others call professionals and schedule an appointment to have their lawns chemically treated.
If lawns are chemically treated, newly sprouting seeds will be killed before they can grow. This method may promise a weed free lawn for many months, before another treatment is needed. For do it yourselfers, companies such as Scott’s produce very good weed killer products. For more information on their products enter www.scotts.com. Information for other manufacturers can be found by searching “chemical weed killers” on the internet.
Another alternative is to use a chemical-free method. By using a combination of 5% regular household vinegar and lemon juice, a powerful and deadly for plants – home remedy can be created. This will also do the job without the chemical aftertaste, so to speak. For directions and advice on this method go to www.whyy.org/91FM/ybyg/index.html.
People that want to get their hands into it should keep one thing in mind. When digging up dandelion weeds, their roots could be up to 3 feet long. When removing dandelions, if the root is broken or cut off just below the surface - that same weed will return stronger than before. Using a tool with at least an 18 inch shaft to get deep into the soil, and prevent the root from breaking near the surface will give better results.
The common dandelion plant has been in North America since the Colonist arrived. How home owner chooses to deal with them is up to the homeowner. In view of their medicinal properties and benefits, eradication may not be the best solution. Making a nice green tossed salad from dandelion leaves may not be on the menu for the Olive Garden, but many more benefits may be underfoot if we learn what our ancestors knew about eating dandelions and other wild plants.