22 MayDendelions

LET DENDELIONS GROW – BEES, BEETLES AND BIRDS NEED THEM

Kate Bradbury

Dendelions

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), was named after the French dent de lion, meaning lion’s tooth, which refers to its toothed leaves.

Other names for dandelion include wet-the-bed and pissy-beds, which refer to its effectiveness as a diuretic.

The young leaves are edible and loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, the roots can be ground into a (quite tasty) coffee substitute, and the flowers can be made into wine (just leave some for the wildlife).

Historically, its sap was said to cure warts, while a tea made using its leaves was supposed to help calm stomach aches.

Herbalists apparently still use dandelions to treat skin conditions, asthma, low blood pressure, poor circulation, ulcers, constipation, colds and hot flushes.

Bumbles bee

Bumblebees, solitary bees and honeybees all visit dandelions for food, along with hoverflies, beetles, and butterflies such as the peacock and holly blue. Goldfinches and house sparrows eat the seed.

Yet most of us gardeners miss out on the spectacle of watching wildlife feast on our dandelions, because we wage such a war against them as weeds.

So perhaps we could take a couple of weeks off from mowing the lawn this month, or at least raise the cutting height of the mower?

We’ll be rewarded with the sight of bees, butterflies, hoverflies and beetles feasting on the flowers, and goldfinches and house sparrows tucking into the seed. We’ll also have time for more interesting activities than mowing.

But back to the wildlife: while in flower for most of the year, the dandelion’s peak flowering time is from late March to May, when many bees and other pollinators emerge from hibernation.

Each flower in fact consists of up to 100 florets, each one packed with nectar and pollen.

This early, easily available source of food is a lifesaver for pollinators in spring.

Bumblebees, solitary bees and honeybees all visit dandelions for food, along with hoverflies, beetles, and butterflies such as the peacock and holly blue.

Goldfinches and house sparrows eat the seed. Yet most of us gardeners miss out on the spectacle of watching wildlife feast on our dandelions, because we wage such a war against them as weeds.

Visit: http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/gardening-blog/2015/may/12/dandelions-pollinators-wildlife-garden

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