The Much Maligned Dandelion

A warm, sunny day spent creating a chain from dandelion stems is a happy childhood memory for many. Who hasn’t held the yellow bloom close under a young friends chin, pretending to determine if they like butter, only to rub the flower on their skin leaving a yellow stain?

The much maligned dandelion is the enemy of many gardeners. Money and time is spent eradicating the yellow marauder. There is another side to this herb. All the parts of the plant can be consumed either for food, drink or medicinal purposes.

A truly resilient plant, dandelion’s grow in pastures, lawns, waste ground, sand, rocks and even pop up in the cracks of concrete. They are the first shot of colour to appear in the spring. Yellow is such a happy colour even if we consider the plant a weed.

 

Harvested from lawns or meadows that have not been sprayed the leaves, flowers or roots can be used for making tea, wine a coffee substitute or salad.

By washing flowers and leaves and steeping in hot water for 15-20 minutes a cup of dandelion tea can be made. To make tea from roots; thoroughly wash roots then chop into fine pieces, heat on high for approximately 2 hours and finally steep 1-2 teaspoons in hot water for 10 minutes.

Local health food stores may offer prepared dandelion root as a coffee substitute. To make your own coffee substitute, roast young dandelion roots to a dark brown colour. Steep roasted roots in hot water, strain and enjoy.

Another use of the yellow plant is the making of wine. They are best harvested between the end of March and beginning of May, using the fermented flowers.

Dandelion’s have more vitamins and minerals than most vegetables. The next time you feel like digging out or spraying dandelions on your lawn think about the great ways they can be used beneficially.

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One thought on “The Much Maligned Dandelion

  1. Thank you for taking the side of the lowly dandelions, Lillie. I have never understood why everyone hates these little flowers and goes to so much trouble, and expense, to get rid of them. The dandelion is often the first flower our children pick for us, and as you’ve pointed out so well, it can be a very useful plant.
    When I was a kid, my mother used to have my sister and me digging dandelions out of the lawn using a knife! It was a relatively dull knife so we wouldn’t hurt ourselves (or each other) but it was sharp enough to dig out the plant. In spite of our best efforts to get the roots, they always seem to have taken better hold, and they’d pop up again the next day! I soon came to realize that this was a “make work” project that kept us out of Mom’s hair while she tried to work inside and yet kept us within site, and busy. Our immediate neighbours were “master gardeners” and I think this was Mom’s way of keeping up with them to at least have a tidy lawn.
    We don’t spray or dig out the dandelions, but they do get mowed down by the lawnmower. They’re tough and pop right back up. I’ve often thought of picking the leaves to add to a salad, or make a tea, or pick the roots and roast them for a “coffee.” It’s supposed to be good, and it’s very expensive to buy. I think I’ll skip the dandelion wine.
    So yes, before we worry about how to get rid of dandelions, we should think more carefully about how useful they can be.

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