Long the bane of meticulous lawn owners, Taraxacum officinale
, or as we more commonly know it - the Dandelion - can be found just about everywhere around the world. This hardy flower lies dormant in the winter but establishes quickly in the spring.
It is usually one of the first flowers you can see after a long winter and its bright yellow buds will start popping up everywhere in the spring. It has a strong, hard to eliminate, root system and, when it goes to seed, the puffball heads can spread seeds over a large area. But yet for all this pervasiveness, it is a relatively benign species when it comes to any impacts on the ecosystem - in fact, the benefits outweigh any issues.
Because it is an early bloomer, this flower is a very important early spring food source for pollinators. Our Honey Bees have just recently returned to the top of the mountain here at Grouse from their overwintering in the Fraser Valley. When they arrived many of the flower shrubs had yet to bloom but the stout Dandelion could be seen everywhere. The bees had a feast!
The plant provides both pollen and nector to bees. In addition to our Honey Bees, we see our local Bumblebees feeding on the Dandelions all day as well. The honey produced from Dandelions has a sweet taste and fairly clear colour. It's great on toast!
I would encourage you to abandoned the old notion that the Dandelion is a weed to be exterminated and instead embrace them in your yard. Their bright colour will be welcome after a long grey winter and the local pollinators will appreciate the extra food source. When we mow the Dandelions down or pluck them out we just make it harder on them as travel between food sources increases. The more we leave, the easier life becomes for the pollinators and therefore more will be around into the summer to help other plants along.
So please join us in celebrating the Dandelion and next time you are on Grouse Mountain check out our locals having a feast on the flowers!