Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Our Friend The Dandelion



Dandelions have been used as a food and herbal remedy for much of recorded history. The leaves can be eaten raw in salads or cooked in soups, are high in vitamins C and A and are higher in calcium and iron than spinach. Dandelion root coffee is said to aid digestion and serve as a liver tonic and the milky sap can be used to get rid of warts and repel mosquitos. The praises of dandelion wine have been sung for ages.

Considered by most gardeners to be an intractable weed, the tenacious dandelion that was native to Europe, Africa and Asia is now well established in temperate climates the world over, thanks in part to the incredible design of its seeds. What seems to be a flower is really a collection of flowers, and the yellow rays, which look like petals, each belong to individual florets crowded together around the center disk. After blossoming, the inner circle of bracts around the flower cluster closes and raises up the seed down. Then the bracts turn back and form a round, downy seed ball. The wind easily broadcasts the seeds which sprout in dry fields, open woods, sandy soils and suburban lawns.

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