Many gardeners and even your typical home owners view the dandelion as something that causes great trouble or suffering, when it actually provides many great benefits. Dandelions improve your soil’s health by helping break up the soil, creating tunnels for earthworms which are essential for healthy soil. Dandelions are so much more than a weed and can do some amazing things while also being used to make and treat some surprising things such as:
- The root pulls up nutrients such as beta-carotene from the soil and it permeates into the leaves. Beta-carotene and other carotenoids provide the vitamin A needed to the plants. Dandelions provide more beta-carotene than almost any other fruit or vegetable.
- Dandelion leaves are edible and loaded with vitamins and antioxidants such as vitamin C, and more iron and calcium than spinach!
- Dandelions can be made into a few popular drinks; the roots can be ground into a coffee substitute, and the flowers can be made into wine. If you use the leaves to make a tea it can help calm stomach aches.
- It’s sap is said to cure warts and herbalists still use dandelions to treat skin conditions, asthma, low blood pressure, poor circulation, ulcers, constipation, colds, and hot flushes.
- Dandelions can even be made into a more sustainable rubber that impacts the earth less!
If you are using sprays to kill weeds it’s important to know the damage herbicides actually cause. While most modern herbicides are designed to kill only plants and have little or no toxicity to humans, that is not actually the case. Many herbicides still have extreme consequences in the environment and affect insects, pollinators such as bees, and wildlife. The chemicals also leach into the water where they kill beneficial aquatic plants and fish.
The dandelion’s peak flowering time is from late March to May, when many bees and other pollinators emerge from hibernation. Each flower consists of about 100 of the small flowers making up a composite flower head, each one packed with nectar and pollen. Dandelions are one of the first and only sources of food for pollinators in the spring. Bumblebees, honeybees, hoverflies, beetles, and butterflies all use dandelions as a food source. Even dandelion seeds are eaten by goldfinches and house sparrows. It is vital for these creatures to utilize these plants.
It is important to be informed about the benefits these simple common flowers provide and refrain from cutting or spraying these well known weeds. Remember, dandelions are not just pesky weeds, you can use them for your health, simple pleasures, sustainable alternatives, and even simply just let them be for the bees!