article and photo by Rose Collison
The dandelion, a common meadow herb of the sunflower family, is one of the first wildflowers to greet us during early spring mornings. It then closes in the evening to go to sleep.
Every part of the dandelion is useful: from its root, to its leaves, to its cheery, yellow blossom. It can be used for food, medicine and clothing dye, and in the production of wine and root beer. Dandelion root, like chicory, can be savored as a substitute for coffee and is high in vitamin A and C. It is also used in folk medicine to treat infections and liver disorders.
Tea made of dandelion acts as a diuretic, and its blossoms have been used to treat warts, clear skin complexion, and heal blisters.
Dandelions are also an important source for pollinators. The flowers provide the first life-sustaining nectar for honey and mason bees in the spring.
Within days of shedding their yellow petals, dandelions develop a unique geometric white globe composed of white seed stems. Birds feast on the tiny seeds, and what seed stems are left over, blow off the plant and fall to the earth in nearby areas.