Ask anyone on the street what those yellow flowers are, poking up out of everyone’s grass in the Spring and 10 out of 10 will say “Dandelions”! Many want their lawns green, green, green! Me? I would rather see a field of yellow than one blade of grass!
Dandelions (Taraxcum officinale); how often have we thought of them as a nuisance?
How often have kids and adults alike idly picked them, not realizing they’re holding a truly amazing plant?
It’s ironic in a way, that we rush off to the store to purchase a pharmaceutical drug when on our way out the door we pass this incredible super plant just growing in the cracks of our sidewalks and driveways.
The entire dandelion, from the flower to the root is edible and highly medicinal.
I’m no lover of dandelion greens by themselves, they’re too bitter for my taste, so I mix them in with other spring time greens (Romaine, Spinach and Kale). I also take advantage of their potent medicinal properties:
Dandelions kick some serious medical-emergency booty in our household. Many of my herb books call the dandelion “one of the most treasured plants in Herbalism”. Now, we are talking about hundreds, if not thousands of herbs and plants listed within these books. Yet they choose the down-trodden dandelion? The plant that daily is sprayed by homeowners and businesses alike to get rid of? How fascinating!
Good for Your Body:
“The tenacious nature of dandelion, with it’s strong deep reaching taproot, suggests some of the ability dandelion has to help us be healthy and strong in our own right.”
In past generations, dandelions were seen as a Spring awakening. Dandelions would wake up the digestive tracks after the long winter.
Dandelions have a bitter flavor, as I stated earlier. The leaf and root helps to stimulate digestion and the flow of digestive juices. This action helps the body to better break down and absorb nutrients from food.
If you have indigestion problems or constipation, tincture of dandelion can really help things along. (Poop problems. Insert some clever and funny poop humor…)
Dandelions can be used as a diuretic. Using it can help with issues from retention of fluids such as edema, premenstrual bloating, breast congestion and tenderness. They contain high amounts of potassium, which is often leached from the body during diuretic use. So a win-win really!
Dandelion is also great for the liver and can help balancing hormonal production and clearing skin conditions such as acne and eczema.
The blooms of the dandelion have pain-relieving properties, which make them great as an infused massage oil for releasing tension held in the muscles.
I am in the process of making a tincture, massage oil, and a salve out of dandelions. All for the healing properties they contain. Tutorials to come soon!
Here are some nutritional breakdowns for the roots and leaves of the dandelion:
Large amounts of-
Smaller amounts of-
Large amounts of-
Smaller amounts of-
DISCLAIMER: If you wish to use dandelion greens, flowers, or the entire plant, please be careful where you pick. You may not spray in your own yard, but your neighbor could. (Go ask to make sure first) I went out to a friends (Castle Gardens in Lexington Illinois) 40 acre farm, where they do not spray, to harvest my dandelions. Some of mine also come from the center of our yard, but ONLY the center where sprays haven’t drifted. (Our yard is huge…don’t do this if you’re side to side or back to back with neighbors). Also, do not pick dandelions by road sides or ditches that border mono-cropping (aka corn and soy bean) fields. These are NOTORIOUSLY dirty and full of pesticide, herbicide, and synthetic fertilizer run off.
Good for the Garden:
Not only are Dandelions good FOR you, they have really great environmental and gardening benefits.
The dandelion is part of the Asteraceae plant family which also includes: Echinacea, Chamomile, Daisies, and Sunflowers. Just like other members of the Asteraceae family, dandelions are loved by pollinators (bees, butterflies, and a whole slew of other insects) and can help attract them to your yard. This means more flowers, fruits, and vegetables for you!
As an early springtime food, dandelions provide important nourishment for bees. With bee populations at risk, letting dandelions flower is an easy and wonderful way to protect and support these essential pollinators.
Another added benefit is the never ending, never coming up, never dying taproot which helps to break up hard, compacted soils. This taproot helps pull water from deep underground. If we compost or turn under those dandelions, the valuable nutrients and trace minerals they’ve brought up will get redistributed to the topsoil.
The taproot can also break a trail down to a water reserve. This allows other plants that normally couldn’t delve deep enough to find that water source, able to access it.
NOTE: Did you know a dandelion taproot can reach 10 to 15 feet!?!?
That is impressive.
Now if you were to ask me if I allow dandelions to grow in my vegetable garden and flower beds, the answer would be no. I like a fairly “weed free” garden. But is my lawn full of dandelions? You bet! Do we spray for them? No way!
So before you start spraying away at your yard this year, think about the benefits of dandelions. Think about the pollinators you could be hurting, especially bees whose first spring food source is dandelions.
Cue cliche dandelion photo of seeds blowing away in the wind…..