A Common Dandy

We call it a weed. And more than one lawn owner has added a few colorful adjectives before they get to the common name, dandelion.

Two features listed in the botany books explain a lot about it’s survival – perennial and tap root. The number of seeds produced and their dispersal by the wind insure a new generation to join the previous each year.

Children find several uses for them. My peers and I would pick the yellow blossom, and when mother turned it down as a gift we’d hold it under a person’s chin in good light to see if they “liked butter”. A yellow reflection confirmed their words. We also practiced braiding if the stems were long or pinched off the blossoms and formed each stem into a “link” for a chain necklace. And of course when the puff-balls became available we had all sorts of tests of our abilities.

Adults use the plant also. When young, the leaves can be used in salads or cooked for greens. They are rich in vitamins but get them young or a bitter taste will prevail. The blossom can be made into wine. The root makes a caffeine-free coffee. And bees process the pollen and nectar into honey.

A pest. A challenge. A lesson in persistence and versatility.

Behold! The Dandelion
The Dandelion

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