We should embrace the lowly dandelion

Few other plants have attracted so much devotion to its mental and physical well-being

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CALGARY, AB Jun 11, 2015/ Troy Media/ – Dandelions have become an unstoppable force in many cities.

They are as tenacious and adaptable as coyotes and rats. Their hardy nature allows them to take over any open area. Grass has little chance competing against a plant that thrives in drought and poor soil, and that seems able to grow even in gravel and concrete.

These plants can grow 70 to 100 cm high, outcompeting tall plants. Yet home owners swear they have seen dandelions duck lawn mower blades by growing extremely short stems. Clearly, dandelions have the ability to outsmart mere humans.

The name dandelion is a corruption of the French words “dent de lion,” which means lion’s tooth. It is also known as blow ball, puffball, monks head, swine snout – even cankerwort and pee-a-bed. The official name of the dandelion is Taraxacum Officinale.

It is a Eurasian plant that has spread across the world. Amazingly, it is edible (it tastes like mustard greens), and can be used in salads. If you like eating kale, then dandelion is just the next taste experience. From my experience, dandelion wine has a lot more promise, although in Belgium it has been used in a seasonal ale whose name translates into “wet the bed.”

Medicinal properties of the dandelion

Although there is little scientific evidence, a number of medicinal properties are attributed to dandelions. It is claimed to help digestive problems, bile and liver ailments and is a mild laxative. The milky latex produced by dandelions seems to cure warts and act as a mosquito repellant – maybe those pests are telling us something.

dandelion
Some believe that dandelions can fight cancer

Some believe that dandelions can fight cancer. The University of Windsor received a $217,000 grant to study the effect of dandelion tea on the spread of cancer. Perhaps researchers should start off the participants with a gallon of dandelion wine before giving them the tea. That’s bound to cure something.

The dandelion also has the ability to attract the attention of devious green zealots and lobby groups. Few plants have attracted so much devotion to its mental and physical well-being. Dandelion lovers have expended much energy to convince municipal and provincial politicians to enact herbicide bans against the yellow weeds.

The claims that lead to herbicide bans are outlandish, but politicians are eager to embrace any regulation that might garner votes in an election. What is laughable is that cosmetic herbicide bans do not apply to golf courses or agriculture. Apparently it’s safe to use the chemicals on vegetables for food production but not on our lawns.

Herbicides allowed on sports fields

Herbicides are also allowed on sports fields as weed infestation is a safety hazard to athletes.

There is another path. We should embrace the lowly dandelion.

One town that has cashed in on dandelions is Kemptville, Ont. where citizens celebrate an annual Dandelion Festival in May. The centrepiece of the festival is the featured dandelion dinner where local chefs compete to create the most exciting dandelion recipe.

Something tells me that to be edible such a dinner will have to be washed down with copious amounts of dandelion wine.

Will Verboven writes on agricultural issues for Troy Media.

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