View from Hickory Heights: How do we judge the dandelions?

I have always been enthralled with dandelions. When my children were young, they often brought home bouquets of them. I proudly displayed them so they would be happy. The little yellow flowers were so joyful to look at. By evening the little yellow blossoms had closed up. That is the way of the dandelion.

When I volunteered at Warren General Hospital there was a picture in the hall of dandelions gone to seed. There was something about that picture that spoke to me. As I passed it while running errands while I worked, I stopped to admire it.

I have never used weedkiller on my lawn. If I did, I would probably have nothing green. My lawn is loaded with weeds and I like it that way. I do not believe in using lawn treatments to get rid of the dandelions. When the children were small their babysitter had someone treat her lawn. That day they were not allowed in the yard. You know that probably was not good for anyone.

There is something about looking out at my yard and seeing the little yellow blossoms. While I admire the yellow flowers, I do not like it when they go to seed. Those stems just pop right up after the lawn has been mowed.

While I was publishing my column in a weekly farm paper, I came across a recipe for dandelion jelly. You went out and picked the blossoms, then made an infusion with them. Of course, you had to wash them in a colander first to be sure there was nothing on them. It sounded so interesting that I just had to try it. It really was very good. I used a little yellow food color to make it prettier.

When the dandelions were out my husband’s aunt always came to visit. She and her sisters loved dandelion sandwiches with lettuce. When Lillian turned eighty years old my husband planted a dandelion to give to her at her party.

Dandelion greens were also good with leeks. My husband would gather leeks for his mother. The ones he gathered were quite small, but they had a really strong flavor.

To make a sandwich you put down some dandelion leaves, then cut small pieces of the leeks. Of course, there was some Miracle Whip on the slices of bread.

I recently watched a food challenge where they were given dandelion greens to work with. The contestants had to create a dish making dandelions the star. They were very creative. I recall that one of them used the leaves to create a pesto. Supposedly it was very good.

I read that all parts of the dandelion are used for health supplements. I understood the flowers and the leaves but I did not know about the roots. I found out the roots are rich in inulin, a soluble fiber that supports digestive issues. It can be made into a tea or consumed whole. It has been used for centuries to treat various ailments.

It is the only flower that represents the sun, moon, and stars. The blossom is the sun, the puff ball is the moon, and the dispersing seeds are the stars.

Up until the 1800ss people actually removed grass to make room for dandelions to grow in their lawns. The name comes from the French “dent de lion” or lion’s tooth. Dandelions do not need to be pollinated. It is known as possibly the most successful plant that exists worldwide.

Incidentally, you can also purchase dandelion roots, stems, blossoms, and leaves. Their medicinal quality is unrivaled with every part of the plant useful.

It is said that we use 30% of the country’s water to keep our lawns green. I am sorry, but that seems like a lot of money. It also seems like too much money is spent getting rid of something that is useful. I will let my dandelions grow!

Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell. Contact her at hickoryheights1@verizon.net.


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