As I saunter outdoors, I quickly cast an arm across my eyes to protect them from the bright rays of the morning sun. The dew drops sparkle on the blades of spring grass like millions of opulent crystals. As I grow accustomed to the light of the outside world, I lower my temporary shield and gaze out towards the landscape in awe. It is a beautiful day and I am so happy to be alive to enjoy it. I smile in satisfaction as I dipped down to pluck several dandelion flowers from the bouquets of grass and bring them back into my abode…to eat.
Is this your typical way to grab your breakfast? Before this week, it wasn’t mine either. I just happened to discover the edible qualities of dandelions recently, and my curiosity was piqued. Perhaps yours will be as well. Let me tell you a little bit about this flowering weed and let you decide for yourself.
Long ago, dandelions were first spotted in recorded history through the Arabians in the tenth century and the Welsh in the thirteenth century. They were brought over to the United States by the colonists in the 17th century as a farming crop. The name dandelion (from the word dent de lion) is actually French and means lion’s tooth. This is possibly a description of the jagged leaves on the stem as well as the golden mane of the flower.
Every single part of the weed, from the flowering head all the way down to the unforked roots (if the roots are forked then they are young), is edible. This is not necessarily true for all wild foraged foods. Of course, it is important that if you do decide to try out this new delicacy, please do it in an meadow (or backyard) that is free of all pesticides. The flower may be edible, but it is not as good for you if it is injected with poisons. If is also important not to eat it if you have any allergies (especially if you have ragweed allergies). If you have eczema, the chances of having an allergic reaction are also higher.
Now that I have dispensed with all the formalities, I can get to the good part. This weed has so many rewarding qualities. It is truly shocking that it hasn’t been held in a higher regard. The FDA still calls it a weed and states that there is not enough supporting evidence to consider it medicine. Ironically, there are currently several manufacturers that sell it as a vitamin in stores.
It has been used by many different cultures for many generations to help with liver problems, kidney disease, heartburn, UTIs, appendicitis, and much more. The leaves contain the vitamins A, B, C, and D. It also has iron, calcium, zinc, protein, dietary fiber, folate, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. There is ongoing research that it may be able to help with cancer.
It has been seen in old school recipes for salad where just a few young leaves are thrown into a basic salad mix for some extra kick. The flowers are great as a wine. The stem is not the best tasting thing in the world, but it is edible.
If eating it is not your cup of tea, there are other uses as well. It is great for garden soil if you chop it up and use it as fertilization. People used to smear it on their cheeks for makeup as well as creating a potent color dye. The milky white liquid in the stem is also used to get rid of warts. Oils made from the flower are good for the skin and sore muscles.
There is so much more to the world of dandelions. The things that I have written on this blog are just a mere drop in the bucket compared to all the uses that have been discovered out there, and they are everywhere! We’ve spent so much time buying all of our products from the grocery store, it is intriguing to know that there are some wild items out there that can be used for good causes. Sounds a lot more adventurous than saying: “I went to the supermarket today and bought some strawberries, doesn’t it?”
I am always searching for new information and ideas. Please feel free to add comments on any other uses or resources that you believe would help further our knowledge on dandelions and their uses.