Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Like most suburban residents with lawns, I see dandelions as pesky, prolific, uninvited and unwelcome intruders in my landscape. In other words--weeds. My immediate reaction on spotting one of those nasty little parasites is to stromp, dig, grind, poison and annihilate it as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. I never met a dandelioin I didn’t like.

And then I thought, to better understand my enemy and learn all about it and its weaknesses and vulnerabilities, I should do a bit of research. So I did. And it turns out my lawn’s archenemy isn’t all bad. It actually has some redeeming qualities if you look hard enough to find them.

Did you know that the dandelion is not native to North America? It was brought here by some well meaning farmer,probably an Englishman, who thought it would make a beneficial and profitable crop. And in some areas it is grown as an edible plant, cultivated and harvested like any other leafy vegetable. Granted, it has not caught on with mainstream consumers, but those wild and crazy vegetarians and vegans can’t get enough of the stuff. Supposedly dandelion greens make an excellent, though somewhat bitter salad. Mixed with other salad greens you would never know that it came from your neighbor’s lawn.

Certain medicinal properties are attributed to dandelions as well. Various decoctions that include the dandelion’s leaves and roots when mixed with other natural substances, boiled and strained, and then boiled again and
served up by the hearty gulp or concentrated spoonful depending on what ails you, are from the realm of folk remedies. But those with gallbladder and kidney and liver ailments who have been treated with dandelion medicine have claimed curative responses that can’t be ignored. It’s just that when I think of using anything derived from dnadelions or other plant species, I picture the concoction served by a witch doctor in full mad-masked regalia accompanied by rattles of snake bones and lots of jumping around in feather trimmed loincloths. I’ll stick with antibiotics and Pepto Bismal, thank you.

So while I have learned probably more than I wanted to know about those little yellow flowered lawn ornaments, and have gained an apreciation of their possible usefulness, I just can’t stop myself from declaring all out war against them when they appear so rudely. To that end I have dispatched mercilessly those unwanted and uninvited intruders that found their way into my lawn. I don’t apologize for that. After all, any plant that is out of place can be considered a weed. And weeds are fair game for annihilation. So annihilate them is what I did. I figure if I ever need a cure for gallstones or want to liven up a salad for vegan guests, I can just go next door to my neighbor’s yard and harvest a handful of his crop. But my lawn will remain unsullied by yellow spots or the spiked leaves of lawn enemy #1 as long as I am capable of digging up or poisoning the unwelcome dandelion.

And curses on the moronic farmer who brought the dandelion to North America. I hope his grave is choked by a smothering blanket of his folly.


Kat said...

I hate dandelions in the lawn too, but this was some interesting information, and I must admit that the first summer my kids learned they were weeds and didn't bring me a dandelion bouquet was one of my saddest moments.

The Rev. Dr. Kate said...

Dandelions also make a subtle wine- not that I would know how to do it, but my grandmother used to make (that good old yankee or is it scots/presbyterian frugality of not letting anything go to waste!). My younger son has the same reaction to them you do and each morning as we are waiting for the bus, takes his baseball bat to them!