Why have all those little yellow flowers got so many people in Calgary seeing red? And why are they at odds with the greens? Today we look at the full spectrum of public opinion on dandelions.

Part Three of The Current

Dandelions - Ric McIver

The little flower the French call lion's tooth is really chewing on a nerve in Calgary. We heard from Calgary residents Lyndon Penner and Gerald Wheatley and you could say they come down on different sides of the fence when it comes to the dandelion.

The province of Alberta no longer lists dandelions in its weed control act. So, by-law officers in the province can't fine homeowners if they don't control them. But for some, the flowers are more than just yellow noise on a quiet green lawn-- they're a hazard. Ric McIver is a former Calgary alderman - now a private consultant - and he joined us from Calgary.

Dandelions - Simon Wilkins

Okay, so it's no wild rose. But the dandelion is a part of the Alberta landscape.

For more on why the province and now Calgary, no longer considers it a weed we were joined by Simon Wilkins. He is the integrated pest management co-ordinator for the City of Calgary.

Dandelions - Factboard

There may never be a dandelion festival or a dandelion bowl parade. And a dandelion bouquet for Valentine's day will probably always be grounds for divorce. But those persistant little plants have roots that stretch way back and they're more useful than you'd think.

Some sage advice:

The word dandelion comes from the French name for the plant, dents de lion. Meaning teeth of the lion, referring to the plant's jagged leaves. These lion's teeth first sprouted in Asia but have since spread across the globe and as we know, they are all over Canada. Far from considering them a nuisance, back in the 1800's people used to actually pull the grass out of their lawns to make room for dandelions. And even today they're still grown as a crop in Belgium.

Close to 100 different kinds of insects and bees use dandelion pollen as food. Every part of the dandelion, the root, leaves and flower, can be used as food, medicine or colouring dye. In fact, many people in England, Australia and Canada have swapped their morning coffee for a caffeine-free alternative, made from ground dandelion roots. 55 tonnes of these coffee substitutes are sold each year.

But you won't want a hot cup of dandelion for a long car ride. They're powerful diuretics. The French have also termed dandelions pis en lit, literally: pee in bed for just this reason. So while they're great filler for salads, they're not the best bedtime snack.

Dandelions - Foraging & Recipe

If you have any doubts about how obsessed people get about their weeds, there's a story in the news from last week ... a house in Victoria was badly damaged by fire last week after a woman was using a weed burning flame thrower off the back patio of her home. Sales of weed burning garden torches are apparently brisk across the country.

But is the dandelion really a weed? Other languages refer to the dandelion as dog's lettuce or horse flower. And people who consider themselves urban foragers believe the dogs and horses may be onto something. With a little effort, the dandelion can be both food and drink. Something dandelion foragers know all about. The Current's Lara O'Brien joined Lorraine Johnson, a Toronto forager and author of City Farmer - Adventures in Urban Food Growing for a lesson in picking.

Well get out your pens and your sugar - we've got an old school dandelion recipe for wine - including the imperial measurements. You will need:

1 quart of dandelion blossoms
1 gallon of hot water
3 1/2 lb of sugar
2 lemons, cut up
2 oranges, cut up

Pour the hot water over dandelion blossoms. Let stand for 24 hours. Strain in a jelly bag. Heat juice again and add sugar, lemons and oranges. Reheat, then put in a stone jar. Let ferment. Skim everyday for 6 to 7 weeks. Then bottle. Salut.

Related Links:


Artist: Rolling Stones
Cd: Rolling Stones: Singles 1965-1967, Vol 9
Cut: # 2, Dandelion
Label: ABKCO
Spine: 0X09 12202

Last Word - Placebo Promo

Later this week on The Current, we'll have a look at some drugs that often seem to work -- when they really shouldn't work at all. And in one sense at least, it's a real case of magic. We ended with a preview of that story from The Current's Producer, Kathleen Goldhar.

Other segments from today's show:

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