Time

Due to working 12-16 hours a day I haven’t been able to keep up with the blogging however I have bought myself a new camera so I thought I would add a few pictures of the garden a couple of weeks ago before work became so mad.

This is the quiet space where I can sit and think

 Then there is the space for the cat to sit in the shade with his own private bench.

Even my pet gets his own seat in the shade.

 

Finally here is the herbaceous border. In reality the garden is rather overgrown but it all looks rather lovely in pictures.

Everything looks very green and lovely

The garden tends to grow trees and fruit bushes as they are easy to grow and look after themselves most of the time. The sweet cecily in the right tastes lovely at the momane a real hit of aniseed if  you are working in the garden.

Well I enjoyed sharing my garden. Back to work now

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Dandelion Ecology, food for insects

Dandelions are a food plant for a number of butterflies and moths. These include the spectacular Giant leopard moth  Hypercompe scriboniaHypercompe scribonia

The Geometridae moth caterpillars that feed on dandelions including the riband wave Idaea aversataIdaea aversata

and the small fan footed wave Idaea biselata.

Idaea biselata

In addition the caterpillars of the orange swift Triodia sylvina  feed on dandelions.

Many Noctuidae moth caterpillars feed on dandelions including those of the Grey Chi  Antitype chi

 

Antitype chi

 and The flame  Axylia putris,Axylia putris

The shark Cucullia umbratica,Cucullia umbratica

The nutmeg  Dicestra trifolii,

The satellite  Eupsilia transversa,

The gothic  Naenia typica,Naenia typica

The Large Yellow Underwing Noctua pronuba,

and the Setaceous hebrew character Xestia c-nigrum

In addition dandelions are also an important food plant for bees especially in early spring when pollen and nectar of few other food sources are available. They are also used as a nectar source by the pearl bordered fritillary  Boloria euphrosyne

Dandelions control and allelopathy

Although where ever possible I am not a user of herbicides, dandelions could be considered an exception.

Even the smallest fragment of root will regenerate and with the production of hundreds of seeds from each plant the potential for regeneration of plants and spread of seedlings is immense.

Dandelions are broad leaved, herbaceous, perenial plants and therefore systemic weedkiller such as round up containing glyphosate or a herbicide containing 2,4-D such as Weed-B-Gon will kill them without damaging grass.

For those who prefer less commercial methods vinegar has been shown to kill dandelions when applied directly onto the leaves. However vinegar is not selective.

If using a commercial weedkiller the active ingredient is translocated from the leaves to the root. Glyphosate is inactivated when it contacts soil.  However, the time taken for it to become inactivated can vary from 3 days to over 2 years in Sweden. So the rate of degradation is closely linked with the soil type.

Glyphosate  inhibits the action of  an enzyme ( 5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase) involved in the synthesis of amino acids tyrosine, tryptophan and phenylalanine. It is absorbed through foliage and translocated to growing points it is therefore only effective on actively growing plants.

2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid abbreviated as 2,4-D was one of the first herbicides to be used in the 1940s. It is inexpensive to manufacture and kills many broadleaved plants whilst leaving grasses largely unharmed. 

Obviously if dandelions are treated with herbicides they should not be used for food or medicine as they will be contaminated.

Regularly mowing the lawn reduces the height of the dandelions and their leaf area. It is possible to individually remove the plants but it is time consuming.

Dandelion root extracts have been demonstrated to inhibit seed germination and have therefore an allelopathic effect on other plants. Leaf extracts produced much less inhibition.

Dandelions nutritional content and medicinal usage

There are many nutients in dandelions including vitamins A,B1, B2, B3 C and E and minerals such as calcium , copper iron, magnesium and phosphorus. They contain more beta carotene than carrots, more potassium than bananas, more iron than spinach and more lecithin than soyabeans. Therefore despite its bitter taste dandelion is packed with nutrients.

The scientific name for dandelion Taraxacum officinale translates as an official remedy for disorders. The information is given here for interest. I have not tried these remedies or tested their efficacy or side effects and I am not recommending them. However, I have found them freely available on the internet or in books.

Culpapers herbal describes it as follows

 “It is under the dominion of Jupiter. It is of an opening and cleansing quality, and therefore very effectual for the obstructions of the liver, gall and spleen, and the diseases that arise from them, as the jaundice and hypocondriac; it opens the passages of the urine both in young and old; powerfully cleanses imposthumes and inward ulcers in the urinary passage, and by its drying and temperate quality doth afterwards heal them; for which purpose the decoction of the roots or leaves in white wine, or the leaves chopped as pot-herbs, with a few Alisanders, and boiled in their broth, are very effectual. And whoever is drawing towards a consumption or an evil disposition of the whole body, called Cachexia, by the use hereof for some time together, shall find a wonderful help. It helps also to procure rest and sleep to bodies distempered by the heat of ague fits, or other wise. The distilled water is effectual to drink in pestilential fevers, and to wash the sores.

You see here what virtues this common herb hath, and that is the reason the French and Dutch so often eat them in the Spring; and now if you look a little farther, you may see plainly without a pair of spectacles, that foreign physicians are not so selfish as ours are, but more communicative of the virtues of plants to people.”

Traditionally Dandelion greens applied as a poultice were used to treat breast cancer

The potassium present in the leaves provides dandelion with its diuretic properties. These diuretic properties have resulted in its use to ‘cleanse’ the kidneys and aid kidney stones.

 The bitter compounds in the leaves and root are reputed to stimulate digestion leaves by increasing bile production in the gall bladder and are mild laxatives. In France, dandelion flower buds are sometimes served with pickled beetroot as an apperatif. The increase in bile production which is stimulated by dandelions has led to its use in the treatment of liver complaints.

As so many compounds are present in dandelions the interaction of the various constituents may provide the beneficial properties rather than any one chemical.

The flowers have been used as a poultice for cuts and the latex like sap from the stalk was traditionally used to treat warts although there is some evidence that it can cause contact dematitis in susceptible individuals.

In summary the plant has been used for hundreds of years to treat a variety of disorders both internally and externally.