Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Dandelions, part II

The previous post got me thinking about dandelions - actually, all the dandelions in my yard got me thinking about them.

Why don't yummy plants, like strawberries, grow as voraciously and successfully as weeds? Why don't weeds taste good? I'm no expert on the biological logic of survival, but it seems to me that irritating humans isn't a great survival strategy - and yet, it seems to work for the hardy dandelion. No matter how many of them we spray, dig or otherwise kill, they keep coming back. It's a successful species, even though it tastes yucky. Wouldn't you think it would do even better if it was scrumptious?

And the plants we want to grow, the delicious ones like strawberries or zucchini, those we have to plant and cultivate and care for. Wouldn't it make sense for either a) humans to develop a taste for dandelions or b) dandelions to develop a tasty flavor?


Mark said...

Wouldn't it make sense for either a) humans to develop a taste for dandelions or b) dandelions to develop a tasty flavor?

A) Yes, but only in the spring/summer...

B) Doesn't make sense if you are a dandelion! If I'm walking through the jungle, I want all the tigers to think I am very not yummy. :)

ps - dude, your yard is toast if you've got that mutant 8-headed strain of dandelions moving in!

The Dan Ward said...

But Mark, we eat all kinds of seasonal vegetation. Year-round access to fresh fruits and veggies is a very modern development.

And tasting good to humans is a pretty effective strategy for things like corn, apples, wheat, etc. We go out of our way to plant and care for these plants, ensuring they survive & thrive.

My guess is it costs a lot to be delicious, evolutionarily speaking. Dandelions went the cheap and easy route somehow, but I've got to wonder - wouldn't it be easier to be yummy & cultivated than to have to put up with all that weedspray?

I guess dandelions are just free spirits. Probably from New Hampshire.

mandy said...

hey Dan,
Did you know that you can eat dandelions? Really! My grandmother in New York loved them cooked in a little butter with a dash of salt. Here is a web-site with a few more recipes... Enjoy ;)

Gabe said...

Dude, I think this every single time I go out to pull weeds. It seems we have to coddle the plants we want, but they edn up dying anyway. And the plants we don't want, grow fast and whereever the heck they feel like. That's crazy.

A variation on your theme would be, why don't we as humans consider weeds pretty and vice-versa, the "pretty" plants ugly?

dad said...

Hi Dan: two questions and two comment: all four are philosophical 'reflections': 1- Is a 'dandelion' 'just a weed' or is it a 'pretty yellow spring flower'?; and who decides and why? 2- many years ago, I remember drinking home-made 'dandelion' wine(It was a surprisingly tasty wine)...I forgot who said: "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder".... I guess it applies here... have a good trip in Floriday.... Dad

Deb said...

I just stumbled on this ...... and thought of you!