Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Nature Notes: Splendor in the Grass

Splendor in the Grass

If I told you this was a rare variety of chrysanthemum you'd probably want one.

However, this lovely blossom is a lowly dandelion, arch nemesis of control freaks, gardeners, and lovers of lawn. Which is to say, my husband.

We have thousands of the little gold flowers in the spring. They pop up literally overnight or, as they did this year, in the course of a single day. Not there in the morning, running riot in the afternoon. It's impressive. (And I secretly enjoy them on that first day, before they turn ugly.)

We don't want to spread weed killer all over the place, and so have relied on relentless mowing to control them before they set seed. It worked well - until now.

The crafty little bastards have learned to keep their heads down.

The Hubby attacked them on first sight, firing up the tractor and wading full-throttle into the swarm. Other than a full hour of his weekend that he'll never get back, there were no casualties. You could almost hear the weeds giving him the raspberry.

I recall a science class in high school where this phenomenon was presented as an example of small-scale evolution. Tall-stemmed dandelions get mowed down and don't get a chance to reproduce. Short-stemmed dandelions are spared the blade. Within a few seasons, only short-stemmed dandelions remain, being the best adapted for their environment. Survival of the fittest.

Unfortunately, this probably means an escalation to chemical warfare. Darwinism sucks.

Click here to visit Michelle's site and see more Nature Notes.


Rambling Woods said...

I was reading that sometimes dandelions are the only flowers available to the early pollinators and that bee keepers count on them so I asked hubby to stop pulling them out or at least some of them. And sure enough, there are bees there as there is nothing else here yet....Michelle

Carver said...

I love dandelions and like it with they pop up. These are such beautiful shots.

Barb said...

Great pics and interesting subjects - very inspirational.

Thanks for visiting my blog :)

Debbie said...

wow....at first i wanted one...now, not so much!!! great capture!!!!

jo©o said...

I harvest the leaves meticulously. Only those growing inside the fruitcage, so that the relentless visits of neighbours' cats and dogs can't denature the leaves.

They are so full of goodness. Raw in a salad, they need to be harvested early in the season. Lateron I steam them to preserve the vitamins.

As you say, if they were expensive, and hard to grow, we would all want them.

Why allow them to give you Myasthenia gravis by spraying them with organo-phosphates, when they can actually do you a power of good. Better than Spinach.
Which of course, is also easy to grow out of hand.

It is a good source of Folate, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Iron, Potassium and Manganese.

To mention only a few :-)

eileeninmd said...

Wow, your photo is beautiful. We let them grow here. Great post.

Leora said...

Your dandelion portrait is gorgeous.

I tried eating the leaves last week. First, I chewed them raw. Then I put them in soup. Alas, they may be healthful, but I found them too bitter to eat.

MyMaracas said...

Michelle, I looked closely today and saw four kinds of little bees on the flowers. Never noticed before.

jo, I have heard you can eat them but haven't tried more than a tentative nibble. Now that I know they're so good for us, I'll give it a go - though I agree with Leora that they're awfully bitter.

Thanks, all for visiting!

good sense in daily life said...

I think there is a dandelion plague this year! They are everywhere - I just commented last week to my friend that I think someone was playing an evil joke on mhy yard & infesting it w/ the darn things. Although I have always thought they were pretty, lizards love dandelion greens, & who can resist blowing them away after they have bloomed? They are multi-functional, what other weeds (or flowers) have such capabilities?!