Dandelion – Common Weed with Beautiful Seeds

Roses are red,
Violets are blue;
But they don’t get around
Like the dandelions do.
– Slim Acres –

23-dandelion-seed

The Common Dandelion. Would you be surprised to know it is part of the Daisy family? And that at one time in Europe it was carefully cultivated because it was edible? That is why it was brought to North America by our forefathers. It was a  source of food!

The leaves can be cooked or used in salads and are high in Vitamins A, C and K. The roots can be dried and used as a coffee substitute.  The flowers can be made into wine. The seed heads are  food for some birds.

At least, that is what I’ve read about dandelions. I’ve never actually tasted dandelion, until today. I found a few nice healthy plants in my flower beds – not too big, unblemished dark green leaves. I picked a few leaves, took them inside, washed them well, and bit off a mouthful… Ugh – quite bitter, really. Maybe that is because it is late in the season. I’ll try again in the spring.

23-dandelion-field

Today, we think of the dandelion as a weed. How did it sink into such disgrace? I think we can blame the popularity of lush, green, lawns for that! Lawns without a single weed in them. Clearly not my grassy areas, mind you…

Now it is your turn to talk about plants we think of as weeds – Have you eaten dandelion? What are the common weeds in your part of the world that could be a good source of food?

Noxious Weeds – the Outlawed Flowers

Regulations grow at the same rate as weeds.
– Norman Ralph Augustine –

I try to be law abiding, but to be honest, it is a hard thing to do. With so many lawmakers in so many levels of government, there is just no way of knowing whether what I did legally yesterday, is possibly illegal today!

No where is this more true than in the garden. Each year another plant is added to the noxious weed list, and some of them are on the prohibited list.

18-thistle

Probably the most well known noxious weed in farming country is the Canada Thistle. Introduced from Europe, it is a very successful plant. I pull it out by the roots when I find it in my yard, but it is easy to find and admire elsewhere because it is so commonly found. It is beautiful when it flowers!

18-shasta

Though I have been growing these Shasta Daisies for tens of years, they are closely related to the Ox-Eye Daisies, which are considered noxious. I keep my daisies in check by not letting their seeds mature. Someday, I suppose, a plant inspector will find them, and will demand that I remove them.

18-poppy-red

The Oriental Poppy or Papaver somniferum is best know as the Opium Poppy. It is easy to grow from seed, and in years gone by these plants sometimes popped up in my yard. I’m not sure, really, whether they are illegal to grow here.

18-dandelion

The Common Dandelion – in some urban municipalities it has been removed from the noxious weed list, not because it has been eradicated, but because there are worse plants to deal with. Dandelions provide food for a number of animals, insects and birds.

Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.
– A. A. Milne –

Lady’s Slipper Orchids – Surprise In the Ditch

I’ve lost track of how many times I have walked the road that leads from our property to the main road. Hundreds, I suppose. Round trip is about a mile and a half. In nice weather, it is a good place to walk. In poor weather… well, there are more comfortable places to walk, like the treadmill in my basement…

The road is bordered by a deep ditch which is a repository for all sorts of things. When I walk the road I scan the ditch, looking for items of interest. A few months back I found the little folder of registration and insurance papers that were stolen from our Jeep. Maybe someday I will also find the garage door opener that disappeared in that theft!

12-fence1On one side of the road is a field of hay. It is fenced with barbed wire. I suppose at one time the fence had a purpose, but today it is just a small hurdle for the deer, and a good place for the native birds to sit. About half way along the fence is a gate post.

12-fence2On the fence near the gate is an old piece of rusty chain. It is hooked by the barbed wire. At one time, the gate was probably secured with this.

12-fence-birdOn my walk yesterday, I left the road and started wading through the knee deep grass in the ditch. I had spotted something unusual in the long grass and had to take a closer look. A Chirpy little bird flew from fence post to fence post, either greeting me, or warning me to stay away.

12-ladys-slipperFinally I found the splash of yellow that had caught my attention. It is a clump of Yellow Lady’s Slipper orchidsCypripedium parviflorum.  What a surprise! According to the websites I consulted, these normally grow in moist, wooded, mountain areas, not in prairie ditches like ours. It just goes to show, Mother Nature knows a lot more about diversity and survival than we give her credit for!