Taraxacum officinale

You might be surprised to find dandelion in my best bee plant list, but these bright, vibrant landing pads are virtual nectar bars for all pollinators in spring.

Take a look around the garden in March and April and see what is in flower for our early emerging bees. You are bound to find a clump or two of dandelions. These are precious and vital food source for our pollinators. Stake them out and watch who visits. Butterflies, bees of every type and flies too all stop and sup the nectar from the flowers. The protein rich, yellow pollen is a valuable food source for insects and especially bees.

I often wonder why we don’t revere these plants? They have spectacular rich yellow flowers in abundance. Each flower head is a smorgasbord of pollen and nectar rich flower tubes, making it a dinner plate for visiting pollinators that can land easily on its flowers and set to work feeding.

The plants have rich, healthy leaves, which my chickens fight over. The seed heads are a childhood storyboard, a moonscape of perfectly arranged seeds that are set free on the breeze or by a puff of breath. And they are an important source of food for seed eating birds like gold finches.

Of course you might not want dandelions popping up between the paving slabs on your patio, but before you spray these incredible plants spare a thought for the wildlife that depend on this layer of the food chain and leave some of them to flower their socks off.

In time you might fall in love with dandelions or learn to admire the tenacity and survival skills of these incredible plants. Blanch a few plants under a flower pot and add them to your salad. Roast a few of their fat roots and see if they are a good coffee alternative, or just stand back and let nature take its course so that our pollinators can feed, breed and shelter in safety.

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