DENVER (KDVR) — Dandelions are popping up everywhere in Colorado, and they are benefitting the soil, plants and creatures around them.

Though they are often seen as weeds that should be removed, the little drops of sunshine that polka-dot lawns and gardens actually have a variety of benefits.

“There’s just this idea that it’s a weed and we should get rid of it, which is a sad thing because dandelions do so much good on all sorts of levels,” ethnobotanical herbalist and author Tammi Hartung said.

Dandelions are packed with nutrients. They make for an excellent food source and medicine for humans, but Hartung said they are also very beneficial to other vegetation.

“They are one of the very first things to bloom in the spring, and that is really important for all of the native bees and the domestic bees when they are looking for something to gather pollen and nectar from,” Hartung said.

While the birds and the bees are pollinating the land, the dandelions are busy digging their roots into the ground and nourishing the soil around them.

“The roots are big tap roots, and those tap roots help to break up and aerate the soil and provide food and sources of nutrients also for underground critters,” Hartung said.

She said they are such a rich source of minerals that they actually give back to the soil and other vegetation around them.

“This plant… every part of it is used as a medicine.”

Tammi Hartung

This ultimately makes those plants healthier and furthermore benefits the person or animal that eats the dandelion or the plants near it.

“A lot of our food is grown in soil that’s very depleted and there isn’t a lot of nutrients that get pulled up into the plants that grow there, dandelions have that benefit,” she said.

Hartung said if you do choose to try dandelions as a food, you should make sure it is organic and not fertilized or contaminated with weed killers.