Dandelions are popping up right now where I live and depending on your temperatures they should be for you too. Growing up I loved making wishes on dandelion puffs, watching as they blew away. I also remember getting scolded for doing it because they were going to start growing everywhere. I didn’t see why it was a problem. If people could see their beauty and benefits so much money wouldn’t be spent on using herbicides to kill and remove them from lawns. I say welcome dandelions and reap the benefits of a truly wonderful “weed”. I love their yellow flower heads (inflorescences) and their puffs that carry the seeds away. When my sons were young we would make dandelion crowns or necklaces by chaining/weaving them together after making a split in their stems. Did you know that a single dandelion is actually hundreds of little flowers/florets? Looking at dandelions close up with a loop lens or magnifying glass is a great activity to try, especially with kids, to see each individual floret. Dandelion works as a fantastic digestive bitter and liver tonic. It is the first herb I think of when working with the liver. Below you will find some key information about dandelions and their beneficial properties.
Scientific Name: Taraxacum officinale
Plant Family: Asteraceae
Hardiness Zone: 5-9
Parts Used: You can use all parts of the dandelion for both culinary and medicinal purposes.
Growing Habitat: Disturbed ground, lawns, cracks in cement, fields, farms, meadows, basically in any open area where its seeds land with full sun to partial shade.
Herbal Actions: Leaf: Bitter, Diuretic, Alterative, Choloagogue, Nutritive Flower: Anodyne, Nutritive, Antioxidant Root: Bitter, Diuretic, Alterative, Prebiotic, Gentle Laxative
Energetics: Cooling and drying
Medicinal Preparations: Decoctions, Tinctures, Bitters (Can be used as a tonic herb.)
Culinary Preparations: Used as a coffee replacement, teas, vinegars, as a salad green or flowers added to salads, infused oils.
Nutritional Info: Good source of vitamin E, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), iron, fiber, potassium, magnesium, calcium, copper, beta-carotene and more!
As dandelions start popping up where you live, take a look around and admire these wonderfully beneficial plants. If foraging for dandelion, make sure the area you are foraging has not been sprayed with any herbicides. You can harvest the leaves when they are vibrant and full of life, small, young leaves are less bitter than larger, older leaves. You can harvest the roots in spring or autumn. Autumn harvested roots tend to have more inulin, which is wonderful if you are looking for dandelions prebiotic benefits. You generally can’t go wrong adding this tonic food/herb to you life.
*Always consult with your health care provider and herbalist before using a new to you herb. With dandelion avoid use with other diuretics and blood thinners and take precautions if allergic to bee pollen.