There’s a good reason why bees love dandelions. This early spring flower is a nutritional powerhouse.
When it comes to abundant, resilient, nutrition, you can’t do much better than the dandelion. Although generally looked upon as a nuisance weed, the dandelion has a low ecological impact on our planet and causes no real damage to the ecosystem.
In fact, dandelions do a lot of good. They offer an early spring food to our pollinators, and to humans as well. Many of our ancestors were well acquainted with the dandelion, and its time we came to appreciate this plant for all that it provides. In a time where we suffer from food insecurity, we would be well served by getting to know the resilient, edible wild plants that grow around us.
Dandelions also help to support and protect the soil. Their roots help to loosen the soil, the plants protect it and within all of that, they create a healthy soil micro climate for earth worms.
Native to Asia and Europe, the dandelion has travelled far and wide. Gradually it has become naturalized across the continents. Dandelions were introduced to North America by early European settlers. They had long been cultivating and using the dandelion for its health and nutritional benefits. In some cases, introduction might have been accidental, through livestock and other imports but either way, the dandelion is here to stay.
Identification & Description of The Dandelion
Dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) and are members of the daisy family, Asteraceae. The name, “dandelion” originates from the French “dent de lion” which means tooth of the lion. They have a long tap root, extended narrow leave with jagged teeth, and disc-like yellow flowers.
Dandelion flowers open in the morning sun and close at night
A Powerhouse of Nutrition
The entire dandelion is edible from the root & leaves to the flowers. Dandelions are loaded with antioxidants and are rich in iron and calcium. They are also packed with vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, C, B6, E & K, Potassium and Inulin.
A lot of wild greens have an element of bitterness to them and dandelions are no exception. Bitters are essential for optimal digestion, bile production and overall liver health. We need bitters in our diets!
Unfortunately, bitterness has been bred out of many favourite greens found in supermarkets. Seeking out some wild greens is one way you can introduce the benefits of bitters back into your diet. If you are curious about bitters, I’ve written about digestive bitters in an article titled; Home-made Holiday Herbal Bitters (Recipes Included)
Dandelion is also commonly used in detoxification formulas is well-known and effective natural diuretic. It also helps the body process hormones which can be helpful during adolescence and menopause. It can also assist with recovery from colds & flu and can even help relieve muscle tension. Without a doubt, the dandelion is quite an exceptional plant.
Dandelion’s Actions Include
Leaf: Diuretic, bitter and choleric
Root: Bitter, Cholagogue and mild laxative
Culinary Uses for Dandelions
On the culinary level dandelions can be added to salads, soups, sautéed like spinach, juiced or added to smoothies and dried for teas. The dandelion is also a popular ingredient in country wiles and beers. The root can even be used as a coffee substitute.
Skincare and Topical Use for Dandelion
Dandelion can be infused in oil to make balms, salves, soaps and a wide range of skin-friendly products. Check out this Dandelion Salve Recipe from the Nerdy Farm Wife!
Cultivating the Dandelion
We grow dandelions intentionally because we love perennial wild food and medicine. I love harvesting beautiful big roots, so we’ve planted them in an area where the roots have plenty of soft loamy soil to develop within. Digging them up is easy, and convenient this way. That said, we don’t have to look far to find an abundance of dandelions in the spring. The fields are awash with thousands of yellow blooms. There’s plenty for us and the bees too!
Wild Dandelion/Nettle Tea (Iron Booster) Recipe
As someone that suffers from periodic Iron deficiency, Dandelion tea is a valuable part of my home apothecary. Tea is a quick and easy way to utilize the benefits of many wild/garden herbs. This tea is somewhat bitter, and honey makes it far more palatable and extra nutritious.
- 1 Tbsp fresh dandelion
- 1 Tbsp fresh nettle
- 1 Cup boiled water
- Raw honey to taste
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Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs
Edible Plants of Atlantic Canada
Dandelion: Herbal Medicine Rooted in Your Front Yard
This post is in response to a challenge by @naturalmedicine, who asks us to post on our natural home remedies. They are offering over 40 steem in prizes – entries due Friday 17th, so post about your home remedies to win! Check out the guidelines here.
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