When You See a Dandelion…Do You See a Weed or a Wish?
Text and Photos by Amy Eiken
I’ve been taking a lot of walks with my dog during the pandemic and recently on one of our daily trips to the park, Malley and I came upon a family…a mom and dad whose two young boys were running through grass which was full of dandelions and grabbing at the seed puffs in utter delight. They were giggling and chasing each other, kicking at the seed heads and creating the clouds of white blowing in the wind.
How fun I thought!
I remember doing that as a kid and intentionally blowing the seeds into the air to make a special wish.
It made me start to think about dandelions and their fall from grace as an important and desirable plant with many uses to a maligned weed and the nemesis of many homeowners.
I personally felt that this year the dandelions have been brighter, more prolific and especially cheerful. Perhaps that’s my perspective given the changes and uncertainty in our lives. I have enjoyed seeing them in fields en masse. I know the bees love them and so to me they are a vital part of the natural ecosystem, not a weed to eradicate by any means possible.
I mean we could really learn from dandelions!
They have many brilliant qualities that I think we as humans should focus on…
- They can thrive almost anywhere. (Adaptability)
- They show up and shine despite best efforts to eliminate them. (Resilience)
- Their roots are firmly and deeply embedded in the soil. (Groundedness)
- …And they spread like crazy. (Ripple Effect)
Did you know a dandelion seed can travel up to 5 miles away from its parent plant? All parts of a dandelion are usable. There was a time in the past when it was dandelions that were the preferred plant in yards and grass was the weed! They have been an important ingredient in natural apothecaries for centuries. The leaves can be made into a tea, a pesto or used as greens in a salad. Dandelion roots can be made into a warm coffee replacement if your caffeine intake needs some moderation and they help aerate the soil by bringing up nutrients from the subsoil. The beautiful yellow blossoms can be an ingredient in cookies, syrup, soaps, lotions and oils.
What a versatile plant!
Did you know that the dandelion is the only plant to symbolize three celestial bodies? The yellow blooms represent the sun. The dandelion seed puff, the moon and the individual seeds represents the wish making stars.
I don’t know exactly when the dandelions had their fall from grace. I imagine when lawn carebecame a thing…white picket fence, grassy lawns and all…and companies started to make a lot of money by selling chemicals and herbicides to eliminate them. Somehow our cultural norm shifted and dandelions became THE weed…which, by the way, are simply plants growing where they are not wanted.
As the world moves forward out of the stay at home time, I hope a new norm emerges. There’s no good reason why the dandelion needs to be so maligned. Who are we allowing to dictate to us what a perfect lawn looks like?
I prefer to think that nature knows best and when we work with her and not against her, we will be better off in the long run.
That is certainly my wish!!!