|Dandelion Photo by bob_jenkins|
The first 2 years I lived on this property, I had the typical suburbanite attitude that dandelions in the lawn are BAD. I must have dug up a zillion over the first 2 years here.
Then I started to learn a bit about Permaculture, where dandelions are revered because they have several important functions. First, they are dynamic accumulators, meaning their deep taproot brings nutrients up from deep in the soil, especially calcium, making it available for more shallow-rooted plants like tomatoes.
Secondly, the dandelion leaves that emerge early in spring are quite tasty as a salad, full of Vitamins A, C and B's (esp. B6), and a variety of minerals. Later in summer the greens can be bitter, but if you eliminate the central stem, the leafy parts are still pretty mild. The flowers are also edible but the base of the petals tends to be bitter. The flowers make a wonderful and colorful garnish or added to a salad!
Thirdly, the roots can be washed, dried, and ground for a nutritious beverage. It really is NOT a coffee substitute, but still healthy and nutritious.
Fourth: Bees LOVE dandelions, so they feed the bees... and we all know our honeybees are at risk.
Have you appreciated your dandelions today? Have you actually tried a dandelion salad??