I am so excited that dandelions are finally becoming vogue. They have so much to offer… still they are humble, yet resolute. Bee like a Dandelion!
Dandelions are the first thing on the menu for early spring pollinators, especially bees, but also hover flies, beetles and some butterfly species. Sparrows and goldfinches enjoy the seeds. They also provide humans with a food source. We are so busy trying to dig those deep rooted buggers out of our grass and gardens, most never notice the value they have.
Why are they called Dandelions? (Taraxacum officinale), are named after the French dent de lion, meaning lion’s tooth, which refers to the shape of the dandelion’s leaves. Due to it’s effectiveness as a diuretic, dandelions are also referred to as ‘wet-the-beds and ‘pissy-beds’.
The leaves of the dandelion can be eaten in a salad, suated or even made into a soup. It is best to pick the young leaves as the older ones tend to be pretty bitter. Following are some links to interesting recipes I plan to try. At the time of writing this, our dandelions where just barely getting started and I couldn’t find enough leaves to collect without potentially harming the plants. I wanted to leave what little I have coming up for the pollinators for now.
Sauteed Dandelion Salad with a kic
The flowers can also be made into wine and jellies.
Leave, Leave, Pick.…It is always a good rule of thumb when you are foraging to pick the third plant you find. Leaving the first two for the forest friends. This helps ensure you will be able to find some next year. Also be sure what you pick has not been sprayed with any pesticides or chemicals.
Are Dandelions nutritious? Yes, they are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, sterols, flavonoids, carotenoids, and sesquiterpenes. Dandelions have been used by herbalists as remedies for illnesses including liver problems, gastrointestinal distress, fluid retention, and skin ailments to name a few.
other benefits click here for a full list.
Dandelions are in flower from late March through late fall, and at their peak in May. They produce seeds asexually without the need for pollination. Who, as a child, hasn’t picked up a dandelion puff ball, blew and made a wish? I still do. If you never have, try it. If you don’t like dandelions and don’t like your neighbor, you will probably want to blow the seeds a drift in their yard. Hey, maybe they like dandelion tea and you are doing them a favor.
Another popular use for dandelions, is to make a tea using the flower buds. Simply steep them in boiling water. It is supposedly good for calming a stomach ache. You can also make a dandelion coffee using the dried, ground and roasted roots.
Dandelions make a wonderful ingredient for soap making. I love to make infused oils that can be used in soaping and dandelions are great for this. Just fill a mason jar half full with dandelion buds and fill with your favorite oil. (olive oil, almond oil, avacodo oil, etc). A pretty simple dandelion soap recipe comes from one of my favorite blogers, The Nerdy Farm Wife.
Her soaping book, Simple and Natural Soapmaking is a must for first time soapers. Wonderful recipes and loads of pictures.
Another great way to use dandelions medicinaly is by making a salve. Salves are easy to make and you dont have to worry about messing with Lye, which is very caustic, like you do in soap making.
I will have dandelion soap and salve available in our shop soon, well sort of soon. It takes 4 to 6 weeks to cure a soap. I cant wait for the dandelions to flourish and bloom on our farm, so I can make more of these wonderful things mentioned above and take advantage of all this ‘weed’ has to offer.