Nature on our doorsteps: Welcome to the Dandelions!

By Rosaleen Dwyer

Rosaleen Dwyer is the County Heritage Officer at South Dublin County Council – every week she gives us an insight into the natural heritage around us and the beautiful biodiversity of the plants and creatures

Dandelions are turning lawns and grass verges bright yellow at the moment, offering plenty of pollen and nectar at a time when very few other flowers are in bloom. 

For this reason, they are very much welcomed in springtime by bees, bumblebees, and hoverflies. Also, because Dandelions are usually so plentiful, these insects do not waste vital energy flying long distances in search of food.

Dandelions are welcomed in springtime by insect pollinators like the Honey bee 1

Dandelions are welcomed in springtime by insect pollinators like the Honey bee

Today, many people dislike this plant. In the past though, Dandelions were once deliberately grown in herb and medicine gardens for their nutritional and medicinal value. 

In those days, grass was seen as the ‘weed’, to be removed in order to let the Dandelions grow!

All parts of the plant can be used.  Teas and tonics are made from the young leaves which are believed to help cleanse toxins from the blood.  Leaves are also eaten in salads, although they taste quite bitter.  

The flowers are used to make Dandelion wine, while the dried roots were once finely ground and used as a substitute for coffee. 

In the past the beauty and usefulness of the Dandelion was celebrated 1

In the past, the beauty and usefulness of the Dandelion was celebrated

As many generations of children once knew, the white juice (latex) in the stems was also used to cure warts.

Dandelions therefore deserve a second chance today, if not for their usefulness to us but most especially for their importance to pollinators in springtime.

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