“Have you seen the dandelions growing in the back yard?” my husband called. “They’re so juicy!”
I followed the sound of his voice and looked out of our window to see the back yard covered in bright, yellow blooms, the color of sunshine itself.
While to many of my neighbors dandelions present only a weeding problem to be solved, as a plant lover and aspiring herbalist I have come to learn about the secret powers of dandelions.
Taraxacum officinale, or commonly known as dandelion got its name from French dent de lion, meaning the tooth of the lion. This sunny little guy lives up to its fierce name – unafraid to poke through concrete, cement or brick, it is insistent on raising its head full of yellow petals for all to see and benefit.
Europeans have been using dandelion medicinally for many centuries. In fact, the plant was so beloved and cherished that early settlers brought the seeds with them on their journeys west, not willing to leave their yellow-bloomed friends behind.
Revered as a springtime tonic, dandelion is an excellent supporter for the whole system. Its bitter leaves generate production of bile in the liver, helping your body detoxify in the most natural way. It also supports your kidneys and the urinary tract, being a mild diuretic. The flowers are full of lutein, a substance that is said to support eye health. The stalks are hollow and secrete latex. As a kid my grandmother taught me to apply the milky white substance on any cuts or scrapes that I inadvertently got climbing trees or playing outside.
But beyond that, just like its heads reaching toward the sun dandelion can help people find rays of sunshine in their lives during darker days. It is said to calm and uplift, balance emotions and help those who need more hope in their lives.
So I set out to my back yard with a basket in hand, knowing what I wanted to harvest that day.
I carefully cut off dandelion flowers, making sure to leave plenty behind and not to cut the first plant I saw. Following the rules of Honorable Harvest is important to me in my journey to learn about and with plants around me.
Basket lined with yellow, I came home to rinse the flowers, dip them in batter and make dandelion fritters that my husband and I had for lunch that day. Juicy, soft and so nutritious, I was grateful for the sun-kissed gifts on my plate that day.
Next time your eye falls onto dandelion’s sunny flower – take a moment to get to know your neighbor and keep it safe from herbicides. Don’t discard it as a weed, eat it instead. And if you are still getting used to the idea of consuming dandelion – find a local herbalist who will gladly take these blossoms off your hands to be made into both food and medicine.
Happy Spring and happy dandelion season!