Readers can study extra lore about dandelions in The Tooth of the Lion by Anita Sanchez.
By Anita Sanchez
Whether or not you like them or hate them, dandelions are among the many most acquainted crops on the earth. They’re one species that virtually anybody can establish at a look, as acquainted to people because the canine. Dandelions are, fairly probably, essentially the most profitable crops that exist, masters of survival worldwide.
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Earlier than the invention of lawns, individuals praised the golden blossoms and lion-toothed leaves as a bounty of meals, drugs and magic. Gardeners usually weeded out the grass to make room for the dandelions. However someplace within the twentieth century, people determined that the dandelion was a weed. These days, they’re additionally essentially the most unpopular plant within the neighborhood – nevertheless it wasn’t all the time that method.
To indicate the advantages of the once-beloved plant, right here are 10 ten belongings you may not find out about dandelions.
1. Dandelions have deep roots in historical past all through the ages. Historical Egyptians, Greeks and Romans loved the flower, they usually have been utilized in Chinese language conventional drugs for over a thousand years. Dandelions in all probability arrived in North America on the Mayflower – not as stowaways, however introduced on objective for their medicinal advantages.
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2. Dandelions have been world-famous for their magnificence. They have been a typical and beloved backyard flower in Europe, and the topic of many poems. Within the terrifying New World, the cheerful face of the dandelion was a candy reminder of house. In Japan for occasion, entire horticultural societies fashioned to take pleasure in the fantastic thing about dandelions and to develop thrilling new varieties for gardeners.
3. Dandelions are a inexperienced and rising first support equipment. The usage of dandelions within the therapeutic arts goes to this point again that tracing its historical past is like attempting to catch a dandelion seed because it floats over the grass. For millenniums, individuals have been utilizing dandelion tonics to assist physique’s liver take away toxins from the bloodstream. In olden occasions, dandelions have been additionally prescribed for each ailment, from warts to the plague. To today, herbalists hail the dandelion as the proper plant drugs: It’s a mild diuretic that gives vitamins and helps the digestive system operate at peak effectivity.
4. Dandelions are extra nutritious than a lot of the greens in your backyard. They have been named after lions as a result of their lion-toothed leaves healed so many illnesses, nice and small: baldness, dandruff, toothache, sores, fevers, rotting gums, weak point, lethargy and despair. But it surely wasn’t till the 20 th century was the underlying reason behind many of those signs realized: vitamin deficiencies. In eras when vitamin tablets have been unknown, vitamin deficiencies killed thousands and thousands. In its time, “scurvy” was as dreaded a phrase as AIDS is at the moment. Knowledge from the U.S. Division of Agriculture reveal how dandelions in all probability helped alleviate many illnesses: They’ve extra vitamin A than spinach, extra vitamin C than tomatoes, and are a powerhouse of iron, calcium and potassium.
A Pilgrim lady sowing seeds. Dandelions in all probability have been dropped at North America on the Mayflower for their medicinal qualities. Illustration by Joan Jobson, copyright 2007. Wine and tea are simply two of the various makes use of for dandelions. Illustration by Joan Jobson, copyright 2007.
5. Dandelions are good for your garden. Their wide-spreading roots loosen hard-packed soil, aerate the earth and assist cut back erosion. The deep taproot pulls vitamins resembling calcium from deep within the soil and makes them accessible to different crops. Whereas most suppose they’re a garden killer, dandelions really fertilize the grass.
6. Dandelions are masters of survival. They’ll take root in locations that appear little in need of miraculous, after which are unattainable to do away with, as householders have discovered. However why is that this plant so arduous to kill? It’s as a result of they are quick growers. The sunny yellow flowers go from bud to seed in days. Their lifespan is lengthy, too – a person plant can reside for years, so the dandelion lurking in a nook of the playground may be older than the kids operating previous it. The roots sink in deeper through the years, and may go down 15 toes. Just like the Hydra who sprouted two new heads for each one that was lower off, the roots clone when divided; a one-inch little bit of dandelion root can develop an entire new dandelion. Dandelion leaves can shove their method although gravel and cement, and thrive in barren habitats.
7. Dandelions are among the many most costly objects within the grocery retailer. Outlets promote dried roots as a no-caffeine espresso substitute – for $31.75 a pound. Dandelions out-price prime rib, swordfish and lobster. Additionally they seem in produce and different sections, and even on the liquor retailer. You possibly can take pleasure in a whole meal, from salad greens to dandelion quiche, adopted by dandelion ice cream, washed down with dandelion wine. When you over-indulge, a cup of dandelion tea is the proper treatment, since dandelions assist the liver flush hangover-inducing toxins from the physique.
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8. Herbicides used on lawns to kill dandelions take a horrible toll on wildlife. Greater than seven million wild birds are estimated to die yearly attributable to the usage of garden pesticides. Lawns make up thirty million acres of the USA, and Individuals use an estimated 80 million kilos of pesticides on them yearly. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service studies that “homeowners use up to ten times more chemical pesticides per acre on their lawns than farmers use on crops.”
9. However there’s a safer strategy to have a dandelion-free garden! Let the grass develop 3 or 4 inches tall to shade out the sun-loving dandelions, or use specialised instruments just like the Weed Hound to have a thriving, wholesome yard that’s protected for children, pets and wildlife.
10. And on the finish of the day, dandelions are simply plain enjoyable. The dandelion appears to be the flower earmarked for kids: In a park or backyard, it’s the one flower a child can decide with out stepping into bother. A baby in a discipline filled with dandelions can virtually by no means run out of issues to do: Blowing on dandelion puffballs can let you know if it’s time to go house, what number of years till you get married, or what number of kids you’ll have – and naturally, if you happen to catch a flying dandelion seed, you can also make a want.
Dandelions require solar and disturbed soil to thrive. That’s why they appear to “look for” human actions: roadsides, building websites, parking heaps – and lawns. Having escaped the herb gardens just a few many years in the past, they now appear to be on a quest to get again into the yards they as soon as deserted.
Dandelions in all probability won’t ever be eradicated, however we are able to study to be extra relaxed with dandelions and different wild issues – and perhaps even to like them slightly.
Concerning the writer: Anita Sanchez of Amsterdam, N.Y., is the writer of “The Teeth of the Lion – The Story of the Beloved and Despised Dandelion,” printed by McDonald and Woodward Publishing Firm (mwpubco.com or 1-800-233-8787. $14.95).
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