They’re everywhere.

Simply everywhere.

The scourge of the greenskeeper and the lord of the lawn’s lament, they resist all attempts at eradication. They arrived in North America as invited guests but, today, are probably one of the most misunderstood features of our world. Once they had a foothold, these guests made themselves at home, spreading like a viral TikTok video. 

… the lord of the lawn’s lament …

Apparently, if you went back about 400 years, you’d have been witness to a North America utterly devoid of these rapacious interlopers. They’re thought to have come over the Atlantic with the pilgrims and may even have been passengers on the Mayflower. It’s said that the Spanish brought them to the west coast of North America. These plants weren’t accidental hitchhikers. Early settlers and explorers brought them over because of their wide-ranging nutritional and medicinal benefits. Highly adaptable, it wouldn’t be long before we were all cursing them out. 

Because of the heavily serrated edge of the leaves, they were known as the tooth of the lion. People mistakenly presume that the lion part of the name is a reference to the vivid yellow bloom that resembles a lion’s mane, but the name derives from those jagged, long leaves. Tooth of the lion translates into French as dent de lion.

Tooth of the lion translates into French as dent de lion.

… You’re way ahead of me now, aren’t you? You can easily see how the French name morphed into its English name. Yes, this happy arriviste is the dandelion. And the dandelion is a plant most of us don’t really understand or appreciate. 

Photo by Walter Sturn

If only measuring their role as a pollinator, dandelions have earned their keep in their relatively recent new home. They’re prodigious nectar producers which makes the bees very happy. But dandelions are so much more. You may have noticed shallow baskets of dandelion greens in chic grocery establishments. For the most part, those greens are exactly the same as the ones you spend weekends prising from your garden. To turn your weeds into a delightful salad you need only invert a terracotta pot over a young dandelion plant or drop a sheet of plywood or tarp over a patch of dandelions in early spring. The trick is in the timing.  If your dandelions are exposed to sunshine, they’ll develop the bitter taste we all associate with dandelions.  That bitterness is due to the water soluble chemical called sesquiterpenes. It’s most concentrated in the stem so that’s the only part of the dandelion that’s not edible. Dandelions grown in shade or in the absence of light have a taste that will remind you of endive.

The early settlers used dandelions to make tea, tinctures, wine and jelly but folks today are also finding lots of uses for this wildly abundant crop. The Edmonton and Area Land Trust offers a recipe for dandelion tempura that’s reminiscent of squash blossom recipes.  The petals from dandelion flowers can be scattered over a salad and those leaves are rich in vitamins A, B1, B2 and C making them excellent additions to your smoothie or soup.  I’m more than a little bit curious about dandelion jam as well as how effective milky dandelion sap is as a mosquito repellent. Their efficacy as a diuretic is well known; Europeans call the dandelion pis en lit,  which translates to wet the bed.  Yes, dandelions are powerhouses of the horticultural world but, for the most part, any time we spend on them is devoted to their removal when perhaps we ought to think more about their cultivation.  Surprisingly, West Coast Seeds offer dandelion seeds in their catalogue.  I suspect the results are more reliable than those of tomato seeds.  If you discover you have a knack for growing and using dandelions, Wayfair offers an Experimental Dandelion Farm sign for about $35. They think it’s ironic, but maybe it shouldn’t be.

Photo from Wayfair.com

This week’s question for readers:


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Submissions to last week’s question:

Would you remarry? Can you think of any improvements to matrimonial legislation?

In 1966 my husband and I made a promise “to love and to cherish until death do us part ”but  after 34 years of marriage this promise was broken. Although it was devastating at first it proved to be a wonderful opportunity of renewal. Three children and four grandchildren are a source of love and joy. Last week’s topic was the success of marriage and the title of the book that I am currently reading is “The seven husbands of Evelyn Hugo” by Taylor Jenkins Reid-how ironic. I have no intentions of remarriage at this stage of my life because I am free.

Yvonne J.Kolstee

Yes, I’d do it all again,

I chose the very best of men.

He likes to cook and that’s just great,

I loved him from the starting gate.

He makes the bread and shops for food,

I can’t remember our last feud.

He hangs his towel back on the rack,

And always puts the milk jug back.

He downs the lid without reminder, 

You couldn’t find one any kinder.

He lets me drive without a word,

No backseat comments ever heard.

He’s lots of fun, no boring days,

Can’t tell you more -he’s shy with praise.

Yes, three score years and wanting more,

And best of all-he doesn’t snore.

June Macdonald

In 1970, Alvin Toffler wrote in his best-selling book ‘ Future Shock’ that parallel growth in relationships was the key ingredient to sustaining a healthy marriage but the odds of achieving this over a lifetime were extremely low, and dropped even further as the rate of change in society accelerated. His proposed solution were ‘temporary’ or ‘serial’ marriages that could be renewed at certain life stages. He felt this would remove the stigma of divorce and liberate those perpetually trapped in mediocrity.

Avrum, Miller

I never married because of the endless joking I heard about how tough marriage is. I’ve always felt that there must be an element of truth in what was being said because I heard it virtually from everyone, divorced or married, but mostly men. I suppose you take the good with the bad and hope the good outweighs the bad. That said, I would suggest that a marriage “license” be treated similar to a driver’s license. Up for renewal every five years and every ten years after the first child is born. 

Bruce Shaw 

Just an aside to your recent column on second marriages.  My husband and I will celebrate our 48th wedding anniversary on May 24 and it’s a second marriage for us both, so I think we have beaten the odds.  

Patricia & John Pennington 

I had this conversation with a woman one time when she asked me this question. My answer was “no”. She asked me why. I told her the only reason you get married in the first place is so your children aren’t born “bastards”.  She kind of saw my thinking.

Jim Shkrabuik 

Most women who have been married for decades can relate to your question this week and swear they are never getting married again!  It’s one thing to spend your senior years caring for someone you have loved and lived with for so long, but why would you take on someone new in those years when health issues arise, bodies start to fail and there’s enough to do just looking after yourself!  

Shelia Charneski

Successful marriage requires:  compromise and common interests. We are very happy four years later.  Start and end each day with a kiss. Onward!!!

Carol & Barry

At 19 my Mother married my father, they had my sister and me. The marriage lasted about 5 years. Mother married again a couple of years later, probably in part because she need the stability since my father was reluctant to pay child support. Husband No2 was not a good choice. Took her 13 years to be able to leave. But she did so in dramatic fashion. It was 1965; she moved herself and 3 daughters from Winnipeg to Nanaimo. Met husband No 3 several months later. They lived together then married; unfortunately, he died at  73. They’d been together 22 years!! So she increased her time married every time!!

Linda Moore

Being married and divorced once was one time too many for me. I expected she would take the marriage vows as seriously as I did. Apparently, her vows included fine print with an escape clause. After learning my lesson 23 years ago, I decided to remain single. The statistics confirm that remarrying is far too risky for me. Best to avoid the emotional and financial costs of another divorce.

David Purser

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