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Dandelions: Flowers or Weeds?

Updated on June 13, 2013

What are Dandelions?

Ask most adults and they will tell you dandelions are weeds. They pop up everywhere and they are hard to get rid of when they show up on your lawn or garden. Ask a four year old and dandelions are perfect flowers. They love to pick them whether they are a brilliant yellow or faded to a white seed filled version. When dandelions are white puffs four year olds love to blow their dandelions and seed the surrounding area. I would wager children are a dandelions best friend as they help increase the dandelion population by spreading their seeds.

In our house we no longer call these weeds dandelions instead they are called Piper's Flowers. She gets really upset when anyone tries to tell her they are weeds or even dandelions as dandelions have become associated with weeds in her mind. In fact, when grandma mowed the yard and cut down all the dandelions her response was a heartbreaking, "how could you?"

Luckily for us, Piper keeps her dandelion picking limited to outside her school and the walk home; at least, the majority of time. Even so, we are still plagued by Piper's Flowers.

Dandelion by ugod, on Flickr, under a CC BY 2.0 license.

The Story of Dandelions

When I was a child, like Piper, no one could tell be the beautiful golden flowers that littered the landscape were undesirable weeds. Now as an adult, having to pull these plants from my garden I know they are annoying weeds. Where do you side?

Are Dandelions weeds or flowers?

Dandelions Menacing Weeds

dandelion
dandelion

This picture is of a dandelion in its most dangerous state - ready to seed.

Dandelion by dungodung, on Flickr, reproduced under a CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

3 Reasons Dandelions are Weeds

Dandelions grow wherever they want. Nobody sits down and decides to plant them. They are like the uninvited party guest who shows up at the party and put their finger in the cake. In short, they are rude and lacking manners.

Dandelions do not share. In fact, they try and take other plants food, water and sunshine. Imagine all the kids in a class were given a toy to play with. Each child plays nicely with the toy they were given until Dandelion shows up and starts taking the other kids toys. Talk about unfair. No wonder no one wants to play with Dandelion.

Dandelions have no sense of boundaries. They seed where ever they want to and often. In fact, a dandelion seed can be carried up to five miles away. Imagine playing in the sand box and Dandelion shows up and sits close to you. You move to a new spot where you have room to play until Dandelion calls over a friend and he sits close to you causing you to move again until there is no room left for you to play at all. That would make be sad and angry. After all Dandelion is not playing fair.

Get Rid of Weeds

I have a postage size garden where I grow a couple of rose bushes and a few stray flowers. The flowers are usually chosen by color. When I need to weed the garden and get rid of those pesky dandelions I use a hand tool to pull the suckers out by their roots. Using a weeding tool works well for me because I don't like working with poisons and I only have a small area to weed.

The Dandelion Song

I found this song on youtube. It it sung from the prospective of a dandelion. It's called, "Why do They Call Me a Weed?" It reminds me of my niece when I hear it.

The Great Things About Dandelions (Piper's Flowers)

Here is something I did not know about dandelions until I read the article Ten Things You Might Not Know About Dandelions written by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association: Dandelions have more vitamin A than Spinach, more vitamin C than Tomatoes are are a powerhouse for iron. Looks like dandelion greens (never tried them myself) are super healthy. Another thing I did not know is that they make dandelion ice-cream! That's a new flavor choice to me. Somehow I think I'll stick to chocolate.

Looks like I may be quick to judge these little golden flowers as non-sharers. Looks like their long taproot pulls calcium from the deep down in the soil and makes it available for other plants to utilize. Another cool thing about the misunderstood dandelion is it is great for your grass. In fact, dandelions help stop soil erosion, and more over dandelions actually fertilize the grass.

Dandelion a Story of Survival

When you hear someone referred to as a survivor it is usually a compliment of a person strong and enduring nature. In terms of the plant world Piper's Flowers or Dandelions are considered the king of the survivors.

It takes a lot to overcome the intrusion of a dandelion in your garden. After all, dandelions are built to last. If you cut part of the root off you haven't stopped the dandelion. Cutting the root causes the dandelion to clone. In fact, individual dandelion plants can last for years (happy dance?). As the dandelions continue to grow their root sink deeper into the ground. It has been reported that these roots can go down as far as fifteen feet (looks like my hand weeder tool has its work cut out for it).

Probably the most fascinating thing about dandelions is that they can grow anywhere. We even have a few shooting up between the crack in out sidewalks. Talk about persistence!

Did you know each part of the Dandelion can be used in preparing tasty treats. I sure didn't. I have never considered eating the weed, but some people include them in their cooking arsenal. I have read about dandelion wine, dandelion fritters and even dandelion roasted coffee at about.com. The site has a list of other dandelion treats you might find intriguing.

Browsing amazon.com I found a kindle book entitled "The Ultimate Dandelion Cookbook" which seems to be written for dandelion cooking enthusiasts. I flipped through the table and contents and found a few recipes that could be interesting. One was entitled Dandelion Pizza. I wonder if my local pizza place offers that? Probably not.

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