🌱Just Dandy, & We Ain’t Lyin’!😉

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Ah, Taraxacum officinale! You may have noticed this bright plant still persevering in lawns and fields (even popping up through cracks in concrete) as the chill of winter approaches. Also known as the dandelion, its sunny flower and many uses have been captivating humans throughout history. You may think of it as an invasive and nasty weed, but it’s actually quite wonderful! From a nutritious and antioxidant-rich green in salads (or smoothies!) to a soothing balm ingredient to treat inflammation, to a wellness tea (we’ll provide you with some great recipe links below) that can be used as a diuretic or detox, this mighty little plant is quite versatile!

 
A flowering herbaceous perennial in the Asteraceae family, dandelions are thought to have been used for medical purposes throughout history (since Ancient Rome and during the time of the Anglo Saxons). The first time it appeared in European history was when it was used by the Welsh, but it’s shown up in written history as far back as the 10th and 11th centuries (when it was also used in Arabic medicine).

 
Check out the dandelions in the opening for the German children’s educational show Löwenzahn, illustrating the power of this small plant in urban environments.

 

Dandelions were transported intentionally to America by European settlers, with seeds brought on ships that were then planted for medicinal purposes and for the spread a flower reminding the settlers of home. The German name “löwenzahn” means “lion’s tooth.” Traceable through Arabic to Persian, it was also named “talkh chakok,” meaning “bitter herb.” Some have also referred to it as “pissenlit” (French slang), pointing at its diuretic properties.

Dandelion is useful from its blossom to its roots! When foraging for use, make sure you’re harvesting from unsprayed areas, and always make sure you’re confident in your plant ID or working with an experienced forager. If you’re going the salad route, pick the younger, smaller leaves for a more tender (and less bitter) flavor.

You can create a DIY dandelion lip balm to ease those chapped lips, infuse the blossoms into oil for a soothing balm to rub into arthritic joints, or create a tincture to ease digestive issues.

It’s a great addition to compost, works as a wonderful dye for yarn and cloth, and has unlimited possibilities for crafts and fun activities with the little ones. If you’re looking for a more adult option, it also makes a delicious cordial over ice, mixed with tea, or in other beverages.

Roasted dandelion root is a delicious warm beverage and can be used as coffee replacement if you’d like a break from caffeine crashes. The flowers can even be used in cookies!

Want to make your own dandelion tea? Follow this recipe from cupandleaf, with options for both roasted and raw leaf teas!

Of course, one of the reasons dandelions are a favorite of children (admit it, you love it too!) are its magical transformation from bright, sunny, yellow flower-head to the fluffy seed head that can be blown away, carrying tiny tufts far into the breeze. Watch that lovely transformation process via time lapse here:

 

We hope that you’ll look at this happy little flower a little differently when you come across it now. Next time you’re weeding in your garden, consider setting the dandelion aside and learning to unlock their potential. What’s your favorite way of using dandelion?

 

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