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close up of a Dandelion flower

You can't help but feel sorry for people who think Dandelions are a nuisance.  You know the folk who at the first sign of a brightly coloured flower in their pristine green lawn interpret it as a declaration of war and leap for the weedkiller.  These individuals are really missing a trick, because as well as being attractive to look at Dandelions are incredibly valuable to us.

It's only in recent years that attitudes towards this plant have changed.  These wonderful herbs have been used for at least a thousand years as both a medicine (especially for the liver) and as a general health tonic.

The leaves are loaded with antioxidants and can be eaten in salads.  They're rich in Vitamin A and also contain Vitamin B6, calcium, iron, manganese, folate, magnesium, manganese and copper, plus Vitamin K, which is great for bone strengthening and may also limit neuron damage in the brain.

The flowers can be made into honey-like Dandelion Syrup, or Dandelion wine, or steeped in hot water to produce Dandelion tea which is an excellent, natural source of lecithin.

Even the roots can be, dried, roasted, ground up and used like a coffee substitute.  It's now also widely accepted that the roots have excellent cancer fighting properties too.

But aside from all the health benefits for us they're a valuable food source for wildlife.  As one of the first sources of nectar and pollen they're popular with Solitary Bees, Honey Bees and Bumblebees.  They're also enjoyed by Pollen Beetles, Hoverflies, and butterflies like the Peacock and Holly Blue.  The seeds in those "Dandelion clocks", besides being great fun for kids, are enjoyed by birds such as Goldfinches, Bullfinches and House Sparrows.

Maybe it's time to think again about Dandelions and welcome this underdog of the plant world into our gardens.

Disclaimer: If you're going to consume any wild plants like Dandelions be sure to pick them in unsprayed fields and verges, and check first with your health professional that they are safe for you.

More info at: UK Safari Dandelions Fact File

Dandelions growing on a roadside verge

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