The beginning of May turns our farm into a field of gold – dandelion gold. And though most people who want a lush, green lawn do everything in their power to kill off the dandelion, this flower is so beneficial.
Dandelions are a source of vitamins. This is why they have been used in herbal medicines by the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. They have been part of Chinese traditional medicine for over a thousand years. Dandelion tea is a gentle diuretic that can flush toxins from the liver and keep the digestive system functioning properly.
They are important to bees and other insects. Interesting enough, although the dandelion has a nectar that has been labeled the first food of the bees in spring, they do not require the bees or other insects for pollination. Dandelions have a root system that will continue to produce those beautiful golden flowers. The roots can grow as deep as 15 feet and, if the root clones are divided, one inch of root is all that is needed to start another dandelion!
The roots are beneficial if you have clay soil as they break up and aerate the ground. They pull up the calcium from the ground that could be useful to other plants. So, in a sense, dandelions can help fertilize the lawn!
Dandelion roots have been used as a coffee substitute and can be priced at over $30.00 a pound! At the table, dandelions are a powerhouse of nutrition. The leaves have more vitamin C than tomatoes and more vitamin A than spinach. They also contain potassium, iron, and calcium.
In addition to salad and tea, dandelions give cookies, jelly, and ice cream a unique flavor.
At our farm, May is dandelion picking time. We use eight cups of dandelion petals in every gallon of wine that we make.
So, don’t reach for the herbicide if you see dandelions in your yard. Pick them and enjoy them with your favorite meal as a side dish or a drink!