Dandelions Are Beautiful

 

A Rose By Any Other Name

Dandelions have not always been considered "weeds." They were considered their own kind of rose before a pristine carpet of green grass became the predominant fad across suburbia.

Weed Or Flower

How fickle we humans are!

We define and judge everything that walks, crawls, grows, and exists.

Accepted flower, condemned weed. It's exhausting when you think about it.

If you make the "bad" list, look out. Humans are more interested in eradication than co-existence.

 
Herbicides used on lawns take a terrible toll on wildlife. More than seven million wild birds are estimated to die annually due to the use of lawn pesticides.

Thirty million acres of the United States are lawns, and an estimated 80 million pounds of pesticides are used on them annually.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that “homeowners use up to ten times more chemical pesticides per acre on their lawns than farmers use on crops.
— Maine Organic Farmers
 

Dandelions Smile With The Sun

Hundreds of species of Dandelion grow in the temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and North America.

The Dandelion is a hardy perennial that can grow to a height of nearly 12 inches. Its leaves are deeply-notched, toothy and long and the grooves in them funnel rain to the roots. Sunny, yellow flowers perch on top of the stems.

Dandelion flowers open with the sun in the morning and close in the evening or during gloomy weather. This living movement gives us pause. How alive this humble flower is, how responsive to the day.

Maine Organic Farmers wrote an article about these sunshine flowers. Ten Things You Might Not Know About Dandelions.

The Problem With Dandelions

The difficulty with Dandelions is that one species was brought over from Eurasia and is not native to America. This Eurasian Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is considered an alien, invasive species that lacks its own checks and balances.

 
Alien invasive species have a great edge over native species, be they plant or animal, largely because the invasive or introduced species generally arrives in a new land without its predators, pests and diseases in tow.
They have an unfair advantage over native species which have an extensive array of things that like to eat or kill them that have evolved in place with the natives.
— NatureNorth.com
 

It's difficult to tell the difference between native Dandelions that are meant to be here and invasive Dandelions. They all get lumped in together.

In North America there are various species of False Dandelion (Agoseris spp.) whose flowers look like classic Dandelion flowers, but which have quite different leaves.

False Dandelion (Agoseris glauca) is a native prairie plant and its flower and wispy seeds look quite similar to the Eurasian Dandelion, but you'll note the difference in the photos below.

The seeds of the Eurasian Dandelion are on the left and the seeds of the False Dandelion, the native prairie flower, are on the right.

Seeds That Fly On The Wind

Children dance in the magic of a dandelion – make a wish and blow the seeds on to the wind (much to the chagrin of anyone trying to limit their growth).

Dandelion seeds are the parachutes of woodland fairies and grantors of wishes in imaginary kingdoms.

For those interested in how Dandelions are used in teas, herbs and remedies, The University of Maryland published this article. They also offer good information on possible side effects and drug interactions.

Yards Without Herbicides

When I lived in Germany, we were not allowed to use herbicides on the lawns. This was to protect the water sources. Living inland, we depended on water that seeped into the ground. No need to drag chemicals into it for us to drink. 

As for the yards – what grew, grew. You mowed what was there, be it flowers, clover, and/or grass. Yards seemed to do just fine like this. As a human, it was relaxing to not have a compulsion to rip, pull or spray into death each and every plant designated as subpar.

Co-existence was, indeed, possible.

 
Only in the twentieth century did humans decide that the dandelion was a weed.
Before the invention of lawns, the golden blossoms and lion-toothed leaves were more likely to be praised as a bounty of food, medicine and magic.
Gardeners used to weed out the grass to make room for the dandelions.
— Maine Organic Farmers
 

We humans come in all types. Some homeowners desire a pristine yard free of any vagrant weed and some nature-nuts think dandelions are cool.

You can count me in with the nature-nuts. 

Black bears love dandelions too. To eat!