Johnny Appleseed was not a fictional folk hero like Paul Bunyan, the king-sized lumberjack. His real name was John Chapman (1774-1845). He was from Massachusetts and wandered through the early American frontier, preaching religion and planting apple tree seeds for most of his adult life.
Cider mills along his route were eager to give him their residue seeds since they wanted more apple orchards nearby for their soft and hard cider brews. Johnny also planted nurseries and sold or bartered young apple trees. He’s been credited with introducing the modern apple to Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. In his own quiet way Johnny was a true hero and a life-saver if the old adage is accurate: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
I have no lineage records or DNA evidence to back my theory, but I suspect Johnny has a great, great, great grandson with a similar mission and if he’s ever identified, should be captured and institutionalized. The media would probably give him the nickname of “Johnny Dandelionseed”.
Johnny D visits my neighborhood every spring, probably around midnight and sprinkles all the lawns with dandelion seeds or maybe he has a sack of those little white puff balls that he blows on from an upwind location. He makes several follow-up calls during the summer to maintain and increase the crop of pretty little yellow flowers with ugly leaves that smother our expensive Kentucky Blue blades and perennial ryes.
The botanists’ name for the dandelion is Taraxacum Officinale. I have several other names, but I’m not allowed to print them. To be fair, if he’s apprehended and charged with first degree lawnslaughter, Johnny D’s defense lawyer should be able to convince a jury that he’s a misunderstood benefactor of mankind deserving of praise, rather than confinement.
The little edible weed with the unyielding root and grass-smothering leaves is a rich source of vitamins A, C and K as well as iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium. It’s been used for centuries to treat cancer, acne, liver disease and digestive disorders and may help lower blood pressure and cholesterol. You can make a tasty wine from the flowers and tea from the roots. Google sources are full of praise for this pesky plant’s medicinal and nutritional values.
After you read up on its benefits, you might decide to go out to your infested lawn and munch on a few dandelions and even pick some for your medicine cabinet or to brew tea and make wine. But then, if you live in my neighborhood, please apply the herbicide.