photo of dandelions

A public service announcement from the Port Biologist in honor of National Weeds Appreciation Day (March 28).

After a long, dreary winter, you turn your gaze outside to see what spring has to offer. Lawns in the Pacific Northwest shine this time of year, all lush and green…and yellow?

There it is.

Right in the middle of the yard.

A weed.

Or is it?

It turns out those dang dandelions serve a purpose (besides catching your line of sight and making you cranky). They feed bees and other important pollinators. While other plants are just waking up, dandelions are wondering what took them so long to join the party. They may not win any beauty pageants or popularity contests, but dandelions are special in their own way.

Their long taproot (the one you can never seem to get to the end of) provides the plant moisture in the dry summer months and a steady temperature in the cold winter months. They really are an impressive plant. Their hardiness provides much-needed nourishment throughout the year. Our Pacific Northwest pollinators are especially grateful for their resilience.

But wait, there’s more! You too can benefit from dandelions. It turns out they are edible! And they’re good for you. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, dandelions are packed with more vitamin A than spinach, more vitamin C than tomatoes, and also have iron, calcium, and potassium to offer up.

So, the next time you spot those little yellow polka-dots in a sea of green grass, don’t think of them as a chore, think of them as a delicacy for our pollinators, and a tasty treat for yourself.

This public service announcement has been provided in honor of National Weeds Appreciation Day (March 28).

Environmental Connection

Some weeds are beneficial to us and our ecosystem. Weeds can also tell us a lot about the health of our yards. Have a weed in your yard but don’t know why? Check out some possible reasons here.

“Weeds” like dandelions are important food sources for our native pollinators. Learn more about the importance of pollinators.

Other weeds really are weeds and are not welcome. These weeds can be dangerous to you or your pets or livestock. Each county and state have a list of plants that are non-native, invasive, and/or noxious and should be removed and/or controlled. Noxious weeds are broken into three categories: Class A, Class B, and Class C. If you live in Pierce County, here is a list of noxious weeds to keep an eye out for. If you see one of these weeds, follow the instructions on how best to control it.

Being at the bottom of the watershed means we see all kinds of weeds both good and bad. They float in on the water, blow in on the wind, or are "deposited" by our bird and wildlife friends. We have a robust vegetation management program at the Port to help control and minimize the spread of noxious weeds. Each year, we partner with the Pierce County Weed Board to identify and remove noxious weeds from Port properties.