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“The strongest and most mysterious weeds often have things to teach us.”
F.T. McKinstry, Ascarion

Thinking of my favorite friend the dandelion. The Latin name Taraxacum originates in medieval Persian writings on pharmacy. It goes by many common names but the word “dandelion” comes for the old French word for the flower, dent de lion, meaning “lion’s tooth”.

 Detail of taxicum leaf. Photo by Greg Hume

Detail of Taraxcum leaf. Photo by Greg Hume

When you were a child did you like to play with dandelions? Putting them under your chin to see if you like butter. Or the most fun, waiting till they have gone to seed and are whitish gray puffs. You would pick them, making a wish and try to blow all the little parachute like seeds off. If you got them off in one blow your wish would come true.

Make a wish!

Make a wish!

Dandelions have a long history with humans and were not always considered weeds.   Actually, they were imported to the United states  from Europe, as a source of greens for salad. The younger leaves are less bitter and the flowers have a mild bittersweet flavor. They are tasty blanched or sauteed. Dandelions are reported to have more beta-carotene than carrots. In herbal medicine, they are know for treating infections, liver problems and as a diuretic. And you have probably heard of dandelion wine.

from website Nature Watch

from website Nature Watch

Dandelions are also important plants for the northern hemisphere bee population providing both pollen and nectar. The seeds are important to certain types of birds. It is useful in the garden as its long taproot can bring nutrients up for shallower-rooted plants. Dandelions also adds nitrogen and minerals to the soil.

Here is a fun website dedicated to Dandelion Folklore.

Perhaps I will seed my lawn with dandelions next spring!