Consider The Dandelion

Taraxacum officinale F.H. Wigg. - Common Dandelion

Why in the world would I consider the dandelion? It's been the bane for many hard working people trying to maintain a pristine lawn. Who likes a plant that produces seed heads that seem to appear overnight, towering high above the grass, after spending hours mowing the lawn? Well, that is what many of us have experienced with this plant/weed in recent history since lawns have become an artform.

My earliest memories as a child of dandelions include the excitement of running from one round puffy seed head to the next, blowing it as far into the wind as I could. How exciting! Well, at least in the eyes of a child. Who hasn't done that? The adults maintaining the lawn were sure to be scorning at this as I was adding to the ongoing battle to stop this seemingly indestructible plant. I can't say that I didn't know it was hated though, because I used to watch the elderly man across the street spend painstaking hours upon hours through the spring hand digging each and every plant out of his lawn, tossing them into the street. (It was a more rural area, so don't freak out thinking he was a horrible neighbor, lol)

Anyway, through those years we had heard stories of how dandelions had been used for some sort of food in one form or the other in times past. Talk of "dandelion wine" is one that stands out in my mind. Who could really imagine such a thing in today's world? We've done everything possible to discredit this plant. Other stories of eating the leaves either in salads or cooked were also mentioned.

While living in a suburban area for so many years, moving back to the country has made me reconsider the dandelion and it's role in years past. I have an opportunity to enjoy some of the plants/weeds that in years past would've been help in hard times - something I could turn to if I needed some sort of food for my family that was free and easily accessed.

Of course with that I need to do my homework, like some basic things we were always warned about, " Have the pets been relieving themselves there?' or "Has anything been sprayed on it?" (Another good reason, in my humble opinion, to leave the lawn alone)

With those questions answered, I then could move on to more research on the plants and here are some things I've found:

- Young leaves can be used as part of a salad. One salad liked by many called,"wilted salad" with cooked bacon, hot drippings and boiled eggs.

- Dandelion is a rich source of vitamins including A, B complex, C & D plus several minerals including iron, potassium and zinc.

- Medicinally it has advantages too. There is documented modern information published by University of Maryland Medical Center

- Dandelion wine is made by using the flowers of this plant. Many recipes are available on the

- All parts of the dandelion have been used in one way or another, including the taproot, which makes it very practical. Purposeful cultivation is shocking news to hear, eh?

- Let's not forget about the bees. Dandelions are a major help in feeding them. They are often known for the beginning of the pollination season for the bees.

Now, here's my disclaimer :) Dandelion has its place in our food supply, but has a few things you should consider before eating too much at a time. First of all, it's a diuretic! Common names in the past have been given to it such as: dent de lion "lion's tooth" (refers to leaves), pissenlit & pissabeds refer to the diuretic properties of dandelions so obviously "urinate in bed" is not a stretch to interpret from that. Soffione & pusteblume refer to the blowing flower part of the dandelion.

Do your homework and maybe consider other food sources for your family.... Our forefathers did!

1 comment:

  1. Really enjoyed this post. Another 'weed' is the common purslane. An Italian friend uses it right out of his yard. Check Wikipedia on this, it's surprising how healthy this stuff is and full of Omega-3 fatty acid. After reading the wiki, I may not just compost purslane this year, but introduce it into my kitchen. Love your blog by the way...!


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