Dandelions – The Good, the Bad and the Delicious
Have you ever mowed your grass, stood back to admire only to discover dandelions mocking? How do they manage to duck the lawn mower blade? I don’t know, but they do it to me every time.
So let’s talk about those impertinent plants.
Here’s another odd fact about dandelions.
Dandelions are celibate. Now you may not realize this but the vast majority of plants that produce seeds have a male part and a female part to their flowers. The male part (the stamen) produces the pollen and the female part (the carpel) produces the unfertilized seeds.
Many plants produce both male and female parts in the same flower, but some don’t. Zucchinis produce male flowers and female flowers on the same plant. Holly bushes are either male or female producing only one gender of flowers on each plant. Only female hollies produce berries.
For most plants the pollen has to reach the sticky end part of the carpel to start the process of seed development. Bees, insects, birds, moths – even a human’s pant leg – might help the pollen to make the journey. However it travels, it has to reach the destination or no seeds are produced.
This might explain why if you have ever tried to grow tomatoes indoors you didn’t get any fruit. Unless you have bees in your house, you might need to help your tomatoes along in the conjugal sense. A small paint brush might be used to gather enough pollen to tickle the fancy of the female flowers. If you know what I mean. Ahem.
The humble dandelion doesn’t have to waste energy on producing male flowers like most seed bearing plants. The dandelion can put all of its energy into producing female flowers which produce lots and lots of seeds. Judging by the results, I’d say that the dandelion is finding this to be a most successful strategy.
So how can you show those sassy, little flowers who’s the boss? You can discover that dandelion greens are delicious. Yes, those little nuisances that cause divots in your otherwise pristine lawn are edible. And cheap. And good for you.
Dandelion greens are packed with iron, bursting with vitamin K and absolutely count as dark leafy greens. Pluck those little devils right out of your own yard. Sauté them with garlic like collards or kale. Chop them up and mix them into a green salad instead of endive. Dice them finely and add them to tuna salad.
Or chew them while growling in the front yard to intimidate all the other weeds who might have been tempted to encroach upon your territory. Not only will this intimidate your neighbors, it will definitely, show those dandelions who’s boss.
So what if they produce a gazillion offspring. It just means a bigger harvest for you. Bon appétit!