It is a beautiful bright and sunny Easter Monday morning here in Mayo and all over my garden dandelions with their sunny bright yellow flowers are popping up. Why? Are Dandelions thought of as weeds, I will never know.
The dandelion is a magnificent plants which evolved about thirty million years ago and have many splendid properties for wildlife, ecosystems and humans alike.
The flowers provide early source of nectar and pollen for bees and are used as a food plant by several of our native butterfly and moth larvae. Dandelions are also a benefit to gardeners (so NO more herbicide – EVER!!!) they add minerals and nitrogen to the soil and as stated attract pollinating insects. Dandelions are a good “companion plant” and (I just recently found this out) release ethylene a gas which helps fruit to ripen.
For us humans the leaves when young and tender are lovely in salads (as are the petals of the flower) they are rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, C and K, and a good source of calcium, potassium, iron and manganese. Traditionally dandelion is used to make dandelion wine and the dried root as a coffee substitute. Dandelion also has many medicinal properties used to treat infections, bile and liver problems. Also as one of its common names suggests “wet-the-bed” it is used as a diuretic.
The name dandelion is a corruption of the French dent de lion – “lion’s tooth” referring to the coarsely toothed leaves. In some areas of Ireland it is known as the Irish Daisy and for my Finnish friends voikukka vӧilill (hope that’s right) which translates as “butter flower” due to the colour of the flower.
This is an excerpt from poem “A Rhapsody” by John Clare.
Is still in bloom among the emerald grass,
Shining like guineas with the sun’s warm eye on.
We almost think they are gold as we pass,
Or fallen stars in a green sea of grass.
They shine in field, or waste grounds near the town.
They closed like painter’s brush when even was.
At length they turn to nothing else but down,
While the rude winds blow off each shadowy crown.