Updated: Dec 20, 2022
In May I love to give attention to some of the misunderstood plants that we are starting to see growing in our lawns. These plants are called “weeds”, which is a word we use for a plant that is unwelcome, unwanted, and perhaps grows a bit out of control, but if we can learn a little more about their nutritional and medical benefits, as well as the benefits of biodiversity in our lawns, maybe we can change our perspectives and respect these beautiful plants a little more. So let's start with arguably the most notorious “weed”, the Dandelion.
Dandelions are a classic example of disliked plants that have many benefits for humans. First off, the splash of color in our lawns can make the lawn even more alluring and eye-catching. But If you’re not into that or you don’t like how the seed pods look afterwards, you can eat the plant. Every part of a dandelion is edible. The flowers are filled with a nectar that can be made into a wine. The leaves can be added to your salad, for a whole boost of nutrients. The leaves of dandelions have Vitamins A, B, C, and D as well as potassium and manganese. They also can help clear your digestive system of toxins. The roots can actually be used as a coffee replacement for people who shouldn’t have caffeine but still want their morning ritual. Dandelion is a diuretic just like coffee, so it’ll make you have to use the bathroom. In fact, although we get the name dandelion from the French meaning “tooth of the lion”, the French call it pissonlit which means “bedwetter” because of its diuretic properties.
It's important to note that plants absorb whatever is around them in their environment. So in the foraging world, it is best not to forage for plants that are on the side of the road or in lawns that have been treated with artificial fertilizers or pesticides. These chemicals from road runoff or your yards can get inside of you. So if you are trying to forage for dandelions, find an area that hasn’t been treated.
As mentioned earlier, the dandelion flowers are filled with pollen and nectar that is excellent for the pollinators. Any way to benefit the pollinators is a great benefit in return for humans. We learn more every year about how much we depend upon them for survival.
Lastly, dandelions have also been used as a symbol of persistence. “Weeds” characteristically can grow in even the most challenging environments, so people have used the dandelion as an example of never giving up. So when you see a dandelion, remember to persevere through whatever challenge you’re facing in your life.
Dandelions have been misrepresented for many years. They provide many good benefits for us including nutrients, helping the pollinators, and symbolizing persistence. I hope that after reading this you’ll look at dandelions with a new perspective and develop a more positive relationship with this underappreciated plant.