COLUMN: Taraxacum officinale a worthy foe

NANAIMO – I have come to develop a healthy dose of respect for Taraxacum officinale.

I have come to develop a healthy dose of respect for Taraxacum officinale.

Better known as the dandelion, this pesky little weed has been a source of frustration – a thorn (though it’s not prickly) in my side if you will.

I remember as a kid picking a dandelion and holding it under your chin to see if you liked butter.

Back then dandelions were not on my radar. Of course it wasn’t my lawn they were invading.

They grow every where, even in the worst of conditions, and appear resistant to a number of remedies to wipe them out.

I’ve discovered some of the new ‘green’ weedkillers – brought out following the cancer-causing concerns of pesticides – have no effect at all on them. They are tough buggers.

Over the last few years, I’ve chosen not to water the lawn on one of our properties. The need to conserve our water makes sense, and besides, the weeds are the same colour as the grass. If I keep it cut, it still looks presentable.

That is, except for the presence of those bright, yellow dandelions that pop up seemingly at will.

Old Taraxacum is an amazing species. I can run the lawnmower over them and they will sprout up eight inches within a week. I can’t get over it.

The grass stops growing in the summer and turns to hay, but the dandelions continue to thrive. It gets to a point that’s all I’m cutting with the mower.

The hardiness of this weed got me to thinking there has to be a way to harness that growing power for other plants.

A little investigation on the Internet only added to my respect for the dandelion.

The University of Maryland Medical Center notes it can be a good source of vitamins A, B complex, C and D, as well as minerals such as iron, potassium and zinc.

It can spice up a salad or a sandwich, and apparently, is good in tea.

It’s used to treat liver and gallbladder problems, and as a diuretic to help the body get rid of excess fluid.

The centre also notes there can be side effects when using it as a supplement including allergic reaction, heartburn, mouth sores, and more.

Now that sounds more like the dandelions I’m dealing with – a real pain more than a positive.

I guess the only way to get rid of the dandelions in my lawn is the old-fashioned way. Get down on hands and knees and dig out the roots at the source.

Perhaps that’s a fitting tribute to a weed that puts up such a fight to survive, and is a source of goodness. I wouldn’t lay odds on who is going to win.


I would be remiss if I didn’t comment on the early exit of my Boston Bruins and the Vancouver Canucks from the National Hockey League playoffs.

I’m of two minds regarding the results – one of disappointment that my team won’t get the chance to repeat as Stanley Cup champions; but also a sense of relief as I don’t know if I could have summed up the same energy it took last year to go through a playoff run into June.

The whole experience seemed to sour once the Canucks were eliminated by the  Los Angeles Kings.

The greatest joy of being a fan of another team in Canuck country was the response you got when flying your colours.

Once Vancouver was out, nobody cared. Nobody booed me, nobody flipped me the occasional bird or yelled out a derogatory remark. Nobody hated me.

It took the fun out of it. Of course, Boston suffering a similar fate against Washington didn’t help, either.

Now, I’m one of those who doesn’t care. I keep up on the playoffs through the TV highlights, but there’s plenty of other things to do this spring.

I will admit there has been some pretty entertaining hockey being played, but it’s not the same when you have nothing invested in it.