Ah, spring! The trees come into leaf, plants bloom again and the green lawns are covered with ... dandelions.
Dandelions, whose scientific name is Taraxacum officinale, are a member of the aster family. Its popular name is the English corruption of the elegant French name, dent-de-lion, or “lion’s tooth.” (The more vulgar name, pisse-en-lit, has not been applied in English.) When the weather warms up, this perennial weed emerges in the millions and covers the grass with its yellow flower, which is actually a virtual bouquet of about 150–200 tiny flowers. Each flower then turns into a seed-producing floret in the form of a puffball that looses its seeds into the wind, propagating the plant. Dandelions grow throughout the temperate zone, from the southern United States to northern Ontario.
What good are these troublesome weeds? Well, actually, they are quite useful. So useful, in fact, that they were intentionally imported to North America by the Pilgrims. This little plant was particularly useful to the early colonists, both for medicine and for food.
Dandelions are the bane of many a homeowner's existence, but they can be transformed into the most delicious sunshine-filled liqueur (colloquially called wine) by making a dandelion tea and then letting it ferment with sugar and citrus.
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