Dandelions are one of those things I look forward to seeing each spring. Some of you may have them right now. Ordinarily, we would have them already popping out around here, but at the moment we are buried in endless winter. I digress. And envy you.
Dandelions are one of those precocious and wide-spread, prolific flowers that get a lot of bad rap because they are everywhere. They have mastered the art of survival. I don’t see them becoming extinct anytime soon, which is good for us, because they are an important plant for us, whether we realize it or not. Dandelions have medicinal value, daily food value, and are very important as food for the bees. Very often they are the first flower providing the bees with pollen in the spring before everything else gets going. You know, those two dandelions you have by the front steps before the snow is gone? Those are bee food.
If you are at all interested in wild foraging, then this needs to be on your beginning list, and should be a staple for your list of gatherings. Let’s face it, finding dandelions isn’t hard. Granted, finding ones that are in herbicide and chemical-free zones might be a little difficult. So be careful there.
Dandelions as Bee Food
In aid of the bees, leave that first flush of dandelions blooming on your lawn until just before they start turning to fluff. Then do that first big mow.
However, dandelions have so many other uses, it’s amazing. They are edible from flower to root.
Uses for Dandelion Flowers
The flowers, picked and washed, can be used to make dandelion bread, and I’m telling you, this is a big hit with kids. You’re eating flowers as toast. Or with pb&j. Life doesn’t get much better than that, truly.
There is a recipe for dandelion bread that I found a few years back that we have kept in our household. It’s super easy to make with kids, isn’t too heavy, but is moist and delicious. You can check it out here at Fat of the Land: Adventures of a 21st Century Voyager.
Let’s not forget dandelion wine. That has certainly been around a long time too. Or jelly. Dandelion jelly on toast is something you may want to put on your bucket list. It’s too good not to try.
The leaves have a somewhat bitter flavor, especially as they get older. However, young leaves are often the first greens one can get in the spring, and can be added to all sorts of dishes. If you like the slightly bitter flavor of mustard greens in stir-fries or endive in salads, you will most likely enjoy dandelion greens.
The roots have a variety of uses too.
Roasted and ground up, they have been used as a coffee substitute or addition for millennia. There’s that bitter flavor everyone loves. They are used in tinctures for all sorts of things, from a spring tonic/blood and liver cleanser to simple digestive upset. Check with your doctor first, if you’re on any medications or having other issues.
Medicinal Information on Dandelions
Medicinally, they have a variety of traditional uses.
Of course, before you do this, you’re going to consult your doctor to make sure you aren’t conflicting with any current medications. Or if you’re pregnant or nursing, hold off until you’ve done more research and talked with your doctor. Officially there has not been enough testing to prove or disprove any benefits from dandelions in medical use. If you’re wanting detailed, professional advice, you will want to visit a certified herbalist or alternative health practitioner.
Over the centuries, the roots have also been used to sooth upset stomach, as a diuretic, and a mild laxative. So don’t over-do it to start!
You can check out more qualified medicinal uses here at The Wild Rose College of Natural Healing.
Dandelion uses are mentioned in medical libraries around the world. Here are some resources for you to check out.
Dandelions are one of the most under-rated plants on earth. It provides joyful food from all parts of the plant, and is there for anyone who needs it.