Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dandelions in the Lawn

The dandelion is a hearty member of the sunflower family of plants, the composites. The composites make up a very large family of flowering plants, and they are considered as major bee plants. Many of our favorite garden flowers are composites: asters, sunflowers, daisies, bachelor’s buttons, coreopsis, coneflowers, and black-eyed Susans. Everyone is familiar with the dandelion with its bright yellow flower, broad leaves indented in the shape of lions’ teeth, and seed heads that children love to blow into the wind. The flowers are often the first to bee seen in January as well as the last to be seen in December. Some people make salad greens of dandelion leaves. The plant is used to make wine. Many simply appreciate the beauty of the bright yellow flowers. Perhaps, though, the greatest use of the dandelion is for forage for the honey bee and the native pollinators. Producing both nectar and pollen, it is at times the only flowering plant available for the bees. For them, it may be a life saver.

In some neighborhoods the dandelion is considered a weed in the lawn to be sprayed regularly with herbicides. It would be beneficial to the pollinators if more people would leave a portion of the lawn, maybe the backyard, with dandelions. I consider those bright yellow flowers a part of a healthy environment.

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