About this time of year, two things happen: our lawns are dotted with pretty yellow flowers called dandelions, and herb lovers/writers everywhere tell you why you should embrace them, use them, not eradicate them with hideous chemicals.
The Herb Bible’s Earl Mindell ranks this ubiquitous herb among his Hot Hundred. Another notable in the herb world is Rosemary Gladstar. Ask her who’s winning the never-ending war between dandelion-lovers and dandelion-haters and she’ll tell you it’s dandelions, of course! “Dandelion’s tenacity is part of its beauty and, perhaps, has something to do with its medical properties; it has the ability to thrive no matter what.” (Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs)
Call them weeds if you belong to the Dandelion Haters Club, but, just so you know – us card-carrying members of the Dandelion Lovers Club have some pretty solid reasons to love these ever-faithful pop-up beauties. Such as:
- their nutrients — Vitamins B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), C, E, P (rutin), and minerals, calcium, chlorine, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, silicon, and sodium. (P.S. They’re richly imbued with even more carotenoids than Bugs Bunny’s fave veggie, the carrot!)
- Earl Mindell’s reason for including dandelion as one of his top 100 out of the thousands of herbs inhabiting the earth: they have the potential to make “significant contributions to our lives.” (Check out this article on rosemary, another one of his Hot Hundred.)
- this gem from Growing & Using Herbs: “Dandelion increase the aromatic quality of all herbs and, in small amounts, it helps most vegetables. It has a high concentration of potash in its body, and works to bring nutrients to the soil surface through its multifaceted root system.” Who knew?
And, what the heck – they’re eye-candy, they’re happiness, they’re persistent, they’re there to use, and they ask nothing of us. We just enjoy seeing those hardy yellow blossoms throughout the growing season. Ever bring bouquets of dandelions to your mom when you were a kid? Kids know!
Convinced they’re not the intruders you were led to believe they are?
From roots to blossoms, dandelions are usable both in the kitchen and in the medicine chest (so to speak). Enjoy them by
- chopping up young roots and using them in place of carrots in stir-fries or soups.
- adding dandelion leaves to salads. They’re less bitter when the roots are young. Mix the less-young leaves with other salad greens to decrease any bitter taste.
- collecting the lemon-yellow blossoms and making dandelion wine. It’s superb! (P.S. You’ll need buckets of the the flower heads. It’s worth the work, though.)
- collecting the blossoms and stir-frying them in pastured butter. Season lightly. Good eats!
- steaming the greens, then lightly drizzling olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice over them just before serving.
- juicing them in your next green smoothie. Middle-aged leaves might have taken on a slightly bitter flavor, so add a couple more varieties of greens, like spinach or kale, celery and/or red-tipped lettuce, and be sure to add a sweet fruit like banana or raspberries to the mix. (I use three kinds of greens and two fruits.)
Dandelion root makes a good diuretic. (P.S. Skip any diuretic herb if you take synthetic diuretic meds like Lasix.)
Dandelion root is good for digestion.
Dandelion root is the go-to herb herbalists use for liver and gallbladder problems.
Consume dandelion root in tea, in capsules or in drops.
Bees love dandelion blossoms.
Dandelion means “tooth of the lion.”
You can actually buy dandelion seed and direct-sow it into the soil. Really?