You can use dandelions as an herbal plant and a medicinal plant; it's no longer just a weed. You can use the dandelion roots to make tinctures or teas. The dandelion flower can be used to make dandelion wine and the leaves can be chopped and added to salads, soups or stews. The versatility of the dandelion herb is astounding.
Long ago physicians treated patients according to the Doctrine of the Signatures. They believed that herbs were signed by God to indicate their medicinal usage by color. Therefore, they treated jaundice with a dandelion tonic because of its yellow hue. In Victorian days cooks grew dandelions in their kitchen gardens for addition to their recipes and of course, to make dandelion wine.
The French call it the dent-de-lion or lion's tooth. They feel that the petals reminds them of lion's teeth. It has acquired many nick names along the years including, blow ball or puff ball, tell-the-time and clockflower. The puff ball moniker refers to days after the flowering, when a feather globe of seeds appears to be blown in the wind to a new destination. It is said that the dandelion can foretell the weather. If the day is to be fine the flower will open fully. If the flower ball remains tightly closed it is a sign of rain.
The dandelion grows across the United States and Canada. It has a long growing period that lasts from spring to fall. Early spring is the best time to harvest the green leaves before the dandelion flowers. Once the dandelion has flowered the leaves will be very bitter. The dandelion leaves have more iron that spinach and more carotene than carrots.
That common dandelion weed is packed with minerals such as calcium, magnesium phosphorous, iron, zinc and selenium. Added to that, it supplies vitamins B1, B2, B3, C and E. Who knew?
The dandelion as an herbal plant has many uses. You can use the flowers to make dandelion wine. Just grind up one cup of the flowers into 4 cups of white wine, put in an air tight container and let it steep for 4 weeks. Of course, strain out the flowers before drinking. The leaves make a tea or can be used chopped in a salad, soups and stews. The roots can be made into a caffeine free coffee after roasting or dry them for tinctures. The entire dandelion can be used as an herbal plant or a medicinal plant. Just make sure to dig deep when harvesting the dandelion as it has a very long tap root.
Another useful way to use the dandelion herb is to juice a big bowl of it with ½ of an apple. You will find it a very easy way to supplement your diet with the beneficial properties of the dandelion plant.
The dandelion as a medicinal plant can be used in a variety of ways. In the spring pick young leaves to be eaten in salads to take advantage of all those vitamins and minerals. Pick mature leaves, before the dandelion flowers, for their diuretic qualities to cleanse the bladder and urinary tract. The leaves made into teas will help ease water retention associated with PMS. The milky sap that oozes out of the stem is said to remove warts.
So the dandelion is no longer just a weed, it can be used as an herbal plant and a medicinal plant. Or view it as a fun memory of your childhood. How many of us can remember braiding "necklaces" out of dandelions as young children. Or, remember the delight of blowing on the puff ball to scatter its seeds. It is time to become reacquainted with the dandelion and all it is worth.
Copyright © 2006 Mary Hanna All Rights Reserved.
Mary Hanna is an aspiring herbalist who lives in Central Florida. This allows her to grow gardens inside and outside year round. She has published other articles on Cruising, Gardening and Cooking. Visit her websites at www.CruiseTravelDirectory.com, www.ContainerGardeningSecrets.com, and www.GardeningHerb.com