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