"Dent de Lion" is the French name for what we corrupted into "dandelion." Loosely translated, it means lion's tooth, for the toothed edges of the leaves.

Everywhere we go now, we see fields aglow with gold as the mighty dandelion is in full flower. This stage of spring is what I call the "yellow-green time." We can all but see the green grass growing, seemingly inches a day and the lawn mowers are already out. The daffodils and Forsythia all join the dandelion in splashes of gold as our world resurrects into our Maine summer. And the bright flashes of goldfinches flitting back and forth to the feeders join the celebration.

But it is the mighty dent de lion, also known by the French designation "pissenlit" (pee-in-bed) for its propensity of aiding in liver and urinary disorders (among a plethora of other health benefits as well as culinary uses), that is one of nature's most beneficial plants.

And yet, the dandelion is the poster child "weed" for toxic chemicals.

As I drive past fields and hillsides of gold, my mind thinks: dandelion wine, tempura blossoms, leaves chopped fine for salads, soups and stir fries, (some dried and stored for later use) and great bowls of greens with butter, s'n'p and vinegar and, come fall, roots dug, dried and ground for a coffee-like drink (full of iron). Blossoms spent the first half of this month pretty much closed to protect pollen from the incessant rain, but are now open, glorifying in the sun. (I feel the same way.)

The dandelion is not native to America but once introduced, took off and spread like a — well, like a weed. And it is, it seems, the top remedy listed for just about any ailment. Every single part of the dandelion, from its golden crown to its roots, is valuable as food and/or a home remedy.

In addition to its benefits for liver and urinary disorders, it is listed under remedies for bone health, skin care, weight loss, anemia, cancer, etc., and is being studied internationally for its properties.

The dandelion, Taraxacum Officinale, is believed to have been around for 30 million years, originating in Eurasia. I think of it as a gift from God. It's now everywhere, great for food and health, and available — free — to everyone.

And when the blossoms turn to their fluff stage, I take them and, while others all doing everything they can to kill the dandelion, I wave them around the yard to spread more seeds for the years to come.

And then there's the fiddleheads.

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, is a Maine native and graduate of Belfast schools. She now lives in Morrill.