Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dandy Little Lions

I’ve never been quite clear on what makes a plant a “weed.” Take the lowly dandelion, for example. It has a bright, pretty, yellow flower, When it goes to seed, it turns into a whimsical puffball, that when blown, sends dozens of tiny parachutes off on the breeze, the stuff of fairy tales. In my estimation, a boring expanse of plain, green lawn is enlivened by a sprinkling of the sunny, up-turned, yellow faces of dandelions. The leaves of the dandelion are edible and make a nice addition to a salad, and the flowers may be used as a garnish, or can be made into wine. In fact, all parts of this ubiquitous plant are edible and also have medicinal purposes.

So who decided that this useful little plant was a scourge to be eradicated? What is so terrible about it? I cannot imagine looking out on an expanse of green grass dotted with sunny yellow blooms and feeling an overwhelming urge to poison them at the nearest opportunity, but hey - that’s just crazy old me. We don’t appreciate all the wonderful things plants can do. There are probably plants being wiped out right now in some vanishing rainforest that hold the key to a cure for cancer or some other terrible disease. I think it says a lot about us humans and our damaged relationship with the natural world. We would all benefit by getting back to our roots, literally.

The worst thing I can imagine is spraying poison around your lawn or garden...think of the all the living creatures that will be affected. Birds, bees, butterflies, small animals and possibly children will be exposed to these toxic chemicals. Please don’t do it! You can reduce the possibility of dandelions taking root on your lawn by mowing high and leaving the clippings behind as mulch. Seeding any bare spots in the fall will also help. Pulling dandelions isn’t very effective, as the taproot generally breaks and the plant can regenerate from a small piece of it. If the thought of having yellow flowers on your lawn really angers or depresses you, you can try using vinegar as a natural alternative to chemical herbicides. Myself, I’d rather just enjoy them. A flower is a flower to me.
photo by David Beaulieu


  1. Okay, I'll admit to having eaten a dandelion when I was a little kid. Anyone else? Great post. It's perfect dandelion weather here at the start of dandelion season ... enjoy! :-)

  2. flowers are flowers. trying to control nature with poisons and such is detrimental to everyone, nature and us. just enjoy.....jack c

  3. The philosophers decided. The ones who study aesthetics: "the branch of philosophy dealing with such notions as the beautiful, the ugly, the sublime, the comic, etc., as applicable to the fine arts, with a view to establishing the meaning and validity of critical judgments concerning works of art, and the principles underlying or justifying such judgments."

    Another "dandelion" making news is Susan Boyle -- singing sensation.

    Just what makes a "beautiful" lawn or house? (Or person. Or car. Or...)

    Ponder that! ;-)


  4. Absolutely Deedee! I agree wholeheartedly with you about the use of poison - it's long term, mid term, any term dumb! Our lawn has never been poisoned and now has flowers and fungi that are rarely seen anymore. Warm wishes to you, Vxx

  5. I agree also! The humble dandelion does the earth a favour with it's long tap root. It brings nutrients down to the lower earth, improving the soil. I love their sunny yellow faces in bloom, & the whimsical seed balls of fluff.
    I do admire your dog!XX

  6. My dandylions live quite happily with my daisys in my lawn.


  7. Deedee, I was so thrilled when I saw that you had posted about the delightful little Dandelion! When I posted pictures the other day of blossoming trees and flowers in our neighborhood, I actually had wanted to post one of the dandelions. But thought that people would say, "what is THAT picture doing in there?" :-) I myself love dandelions, and like you, love to look out over an expanse of green grass and see their lovely yellow flowers adding color! From my kitchen window I look out on a little field of green and right now it is covered with so many yellow and white blossoms, and I just feel so cheery and happy to see it! In my book, it is a flower, NOT a weed! And thank you for being another who thinks so. I had forgotten that you can eat the leaves, my dad always talked about it from his childhood. I am going to get some for our next salad and see how they taste!! What used to be good for my daughters bunnies years ago is good enough for me to eat too! :-) take care, Debby

  8. Hi, Deedee, I am back after a break of a month. Nice post.
    Best wishes and have a nice week,

  9. I'm so with you on this post..especially about the lowly dandelion..I still make a wish before I send the puff on its way.
    Who indeed is in charge of the garden police?
    A flower is a flower!

  10. Hi CD - Yeah, I remember munching on a few!

    Hi Jack - So true! Things were fine before we humans started tampering.

    Hi Don - You are so right-beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder, as it should be.

    Hi Veronica - That's great! I think of our yard as a haven for the birds and other creatures. It's a poison-free zone.

    Hi Meggie - So true! I think all plants have a purpose. Rigby says thanks for the compliment!

    Hi Margaret - Yes, my plantings co-exist with my native "weeds" quite nicely too.

    Hi Debby - Yes, my bunnies all loved the leaves too!

    Hi Rosana - Welcome back!

    Hi Lyn - I make a wish too!!!

  11. Great blog! I like them too - though they are considered the worst thing in your "lawn" in my neighborhood. I told my husband that I didn't care what he did with our front lawn (which he is judged on, stupidly) but the backyard is natural. I won't let him spray anything on anything so it has become my job to personally remove the "deadly demons". I love the fields in the park nearby, all yellow-spotted, in summer.