We've already seen a few of those bright and vigorous dandelions pop up, and the annual major explosion is sure to occur over the next few weeks. They easily turn lawns and fields into a blazing yellow vista. Soon they turn into fuzz that blows all around and catches on everything in sight. Maybe they trigger itchy eyes and non-stop sneezing for you? Maybe they drive you crazy because you try so hard to eradicate them from your lawn, but they just keep coming back? Then again, maybe you love them and are sad to see them go dormant each summer?
From a strictly botanical viewpoint, dandelions certainly can compete with or even choke out other plants people try to grow. For examples farmers may not want the dandelions in their oats or alfalfa field because they could deprive those more valuable crops of nutrients, water, and even sunlight. Likewise, in the garden your lettuce, peas, flowers, or whatever could suffer if there are too many dandelions squeezed in around them. A homeowner may not want them in their lawn because they might make the lawn grasses stunted for a while.
For a lot of homeowners, they simply may not like the way dandelions look. They definitely can make your lawn look uneven and not as lush. Isn't it annoying when you are mowing lawn and those springy dandelion stems just bend over under the mower deck, and don't get caught off! Then you turn around and look at what you just mowed, and it looks like you didn't even go there.
However, many experts say dandelions are actually good for the soil. Their tough roots can loosen the soil and allow oxygen and water to penetrate more easily. The dandelions can also stabilize disturbed soil so it doesn't erode and wash away as readily.
Dandelions as Food
Did you know they dandelions are edible? Some people and animals find them really tasty. They can be eaten raw, cooked, steamed, and just about any way you can think of. One cool thing about dandelions is that they don't lose too many of their nutrients when they are cooked.
They often are used in salads, tea, broths, jelly, bread, fritters, cookies, and even deep-fried. Of course some people make wine from them as well. The uses are really endless.
Some people say that dandelions that grow in shadier spots taste a little less bitter. If you do want to try consuming dandelions, make sure you choose ones from an area that receives no pesticides, fertilizers, or other chemicals! Also make sure you wash them well. You never know what animal might have deposited waste on them recently!
In addition, make sure you check with your doctor before eating dandelions. Dandelions may contain compounds that interfere with certain medications you may be taking (kind of like you shouldn't eat grapefruit while taking various cholesterol medications).
Here are some interesting nutritional nuggets about dandelions. They are high in vitamin A, K, C and B6. They have a lot of iron which helps maintain red blood cell health. They contain potassium as well as other minerals like folate, magnesium, and copper. Dandelions boost the immune system. They can also help balance blood sugar levels, relieve heartburn, and soothe some digestive issues.
They are used in various decoration (your imagination is the limit). Maybe your kids have made crowns out of them? They are sometimes used in beauty products such as hair rinses, facial cleansers, acne treatments, lotions, and soap.
I hope this article at least gives you a little bit more appreciation for the cursed or blessed dandelion and adds some enjoyment to spring for you!