A doggy blog written by a clever little chihuahua.
Sunday, May 1, 2011
On Friday, Mom mowed the back yard, and while she was mowing, she started thinking about dandelions, and she told me that dandelions might be a good subject for a blog entry. But before she told me that, and while she was still mowing, a bunch of dirt and stuff blew in her eye, even though she was wearing some of those funny-looking safety glasses. And when Mom was trying to get the dirt out of her eye, she rubbed too hard and ended up with something called a corneal abrasion. Which means that her eyeball got scratched and it hurt a lot. So Mom had to go to Urgent Care and have the doctor look at her eye and give her a prescription for some eye drops, and now her eye is feeling lots better.
But anyway, I'm telling you all this because even though I am not terribly interested in the subject of dandelions, I feel sorry for Mom, so I said I would go ahead and write about these pesky plants. And the first thing I will tell you is that most people think dandelions are annoying weeds that shouldn't grow in their lawns. And then I will tell you that dandelions are part of the aster family, which makes sense if you think about the fact that aster flowers look kind of like a dandelion flowers.
The fancy scientific name for the common dandelion is Taraxacum officinale, but most people just call them dandelions. In French, the phrase dent de lion means "lion's tooth," and that is where our word dandelion comes from. If you look at a dandelion leaf, you will see that it has edges that are shaped like teeth, but these teeth don't really bite. In fact, dandelions are plants that you can eat every part of without getting sick, and dandelions can even be used for medicine. Dogs don't usually eat dandelions, but people do, and so do caterpillars.
During all the many years that dandelions have been around, there have been lots of different English common names for the plant. Some of these names are: blowball, lion's-tooth, cankerwort, milk-witch, yellow-gowan, Irish daisy, monks-head, priest's-crown, puff-ball, faceclock, and swine's snout.
Dandelions grow pretty much everywhere in the world, and that's because they can grow in all kinds of soil and also they make bunches and bunches of seeds. One dandelion head has between 54 and 172 seeds on it, and one dandelion plant can make more than 5,000 seeds in one year. The seeds get blown by the wind, and they can go several hundred yards before they land. Also they can hang around for a few years before they even sprout. So if you are wondering why it's so hard to get rid of the dandelions in your yard, this is the reason.
You can eat dandelion leaves raw, like maybe in a salad. Or you can cook them and make dandelion greens. The leaves have lots of vitamin A, vitamin C, and more iron and calcium than spinach has. Dandelion flowers can be made into wine. Also, in Belgium, the flowers are used to make an ale called Pissenlit, which means "wet the bed" in French. Oh, and you can also make jam or a type of syrup out of dandelion flowers. Plus the roots can be ground up and roasted to make a substitute for coffee.
In Canada, dandelion root is a registered drug, and it is sold as a diuretic, which is something that makes you pee a lot. The leaves can be made into a sort of drink that helps treat anemia, jaundice and nervousness. You can use the white sap of the plant as a mosquito repellent or as a folk remedy for warts. Also you can get a yellow or green dye from dandelion flowers. A brand-new use for dandelion root sap that scientists are studying is to make rubber out of it. This rubber would be just as good as the rubber made from trees, but it would be cheaper to make.
So anyway, dandelions are really pretty nice plants, even though nobody likes them. And now I wrote a whole blog entry about them, which should make Mom happy. It's always a good idea to make Mom happy because otherwise she might forget to feed us!