Dandelion

Latin Name: Taraxacum officinale

Key Elements: Digestive Tonic, Blood Cleanser, Diuretic

Dandelion-iStockphoto_1Dandelion is easily identified and is seldom confused with other plants. Surprisingly, this much hated weed offers interesting food with all parts of the plant being edible, not just the familiar greens. It can taste slightly to strongly bitter depending on when gathered. If you look closely at the flower, you will notice just how beautiful the flower really is and you may even begin to have a greater appreciation for this detested plant. It has been said that the flower of the Dandelion resembles the sun with its bright yellow, disc shape and the petals that extend out like the sun’s rays. The Dandelion is commonly used both as a wild edible and medicinal.

Parts Used for Medicine: Roots and leaves.

Medicinal Uses:
  • Bitter spring tonic for stimulating digestion, bile, liver and pancreas
  • A traditional blood purifier
  • Used for chronic constipation with long, thin, clay colored stools
  • Helps metabolize fat
  • Good for sluggish liver and gall bladder
  • Used for water retention (leaf has diuretic affect)
  • Congested kidneys
  • Urinary tract ailments
  • Muscular rheumatism (Dandelion flower infused oil) – muscle aches, tension
  • Infections in bones (especially jaw)
  • Jaundice
  • Skin
  • Folk remedy for gallstones: eat 5-6 freshly picked flowering spring stems daily for 2 weeks.
  • For warts, express milk sap from stem and wipe wart often.

Systems Supported: Liver, spleen, digestive system, kidney, bladder.

Plant Preparations: Food, Infusion, Tincture, Oil, Syrup

Minerals/Vitamins: Dandelion is a good source of calcium, potassium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. Root contains inulin which balances blood sugar and stimulates healthy bowel flora. One serving of dandelion greens has as much calcium as a 1/2 cup of milk.

Herbal Actions: Alterative, Cholagogue, Diuretic, Hepatic, Mild Laxative, Nutritive, Tonic

Dandelion as a wild edible….

dandelion (2)

Whether it be the fresh or cooked tender Dandelion leaves, stir fried blossoms with garlic, Dandelion flower muffins, jelly or syrup, roasted roots, or traditional Dandelion wine, this plant offers a smorgasbord of wild edible options. Try to take advantage of the many food possibilities of this plant. There really are as many options for eating dandelions as there may be plants in your yard!

 

Parts Used: Young tender leaves, stalks and roots.

Harvest Times: April-May and October-November (Greens), April-Early June (Flowers), April-Early May (Crowns), April-November (Roots).

Leaves: Pick the tender young leaves in early spring before it flowers to avoid bitterness. If plant is in full sun, the leaves tend to be less desirable. Leaves often used as a spring tonic and are highly nutritious.  May be eaten raw or cooked.  In salads, mix with milder greens to alleviate the stronger flavor.  As a potherb, steam or cook for 5-10 minutes, drain water and season.

Flower Buds: In early spring, the flower bud forms a crown which grows close to the ground. Cut out this crown deep enough to hold it together, clean, peel off outer leaves, and eat raw or cooked.

Flowers and Stalks: The long tube-like stalk can be picked when they are light green in color and have young blossoms. The taste can vary from very bitter to slightly sweet. The stalks can be munched on separately raw or cooked and seasoned. The flowers may be removed, cooked and seasoned.  Also the yellow petals may be removed and used in salads, cooked with other vegetables, or made into Dandelion wine.

Roots: Young roots may be dug, cleaned, boiled or used as other root vegetables.  Roots can be dried and made into a coffee substitute.