Tough Puffs

Dandelions are one of those plants that people love to hate. They’re tenacious, perennial, copious; their tap roots run deep and even cut blossoms will still turn to seed heads if they aren’t culled early enough. Their leaves spread flat and wide, smothering anything beneath.

If we didn’t hate them, we’d love them for their reliability and bright sunny beauty. But the fact is, even though they were first introduced in the United States as a salad variety in the 1600s, the general consensus is that dandelions are weeds.

That’s why any weedkiller worth the name is made to wipe out dandelions. Oh, they just come back again – that’s just what dandelions do. As I ran by a freshly tilled field, I noticed bright globes of white scattered like rice at a wedding. Dandelion puffs, all in full seed, probably cut when the tractor was skimming the margins of the field.

Dandelion heads, farming, agriculture,plowed field
Severed dandelion puffs seeding a freshly tilled field.
Photo: PKR

Regardless of which crop is going to be grown on the field this season, it will include a healthy portion of dandelions. Unless, of course, the farmer sprays the ubiquitous glyphosate weedkiller – under trade pressure from the US and swayed by the vote of the Germany in support of Monsanto’s RoundUp in late 2017, the import and use of glyphosate has been extended for another five years in the European Union. This in spite of numerous studies showing the danger of the herbicide to the environment and to human health.

Dandelion heads, farming, agriculture,plowed field
Dandelions on the edge of a freshly plowed field.
Photo: PKR

At least the other chemical bugaboos of industrial farming, neonicotinoids, were banned by the EU for the foreseeable future. Good news for bees and other pollinators! It would be great to see the US follow suit.