Taraxacum Officinalis

By Lydia Soucy

Dandelion, a lawn fanatic's worst nightmare, an herbalist and pollinator's

best friend. I personally think that this is a beautiful

flower, the bright yellow just pops and brings so much color to a yard, and then when they go to seed who can’t help but pull up those magical fluff balls, make a wish and blow the seeds into the air, watching

them dance around in the wind while carrying your wish off to the universe.

The use of Dandelions goes back for over a thousand years, it was used by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans and even in Chinese traditional medicine. It is theorized to have originated in Europe and Asia and was brought over by early colonists who came to settle in America as an important food source and a reminder of the homes they left behind. It was from there that the Dandelion took off and spread across North America, finding ways to flourish and grow in all different types of terrain. Since its introduction to North America, it has spread across the world.

What is now labeled as an obnoxious weed, Dandelion is anything but that. The bright yellow flower plays an important role for our pollinator friends. It pops up in early spring and is one of their first foods as they come out of hibernation or flying in from their long migration journey. Not only does it serve an important role for our pollinators, but it also is a super plant for us humans as well. It’s an amazing tool for liver support and detoxing and is packed full of nutrients. You’ll find that every piece of it can be used and made into something. The roots can be roasted and made into a rich drink that is comparable to coffee, the leave

s and flowers can be dried and made into a tea, the flowers can be made into a jelly or jam, and Dandelion wine, and the leaves can be thrown into salads for a green mixture.

When harvesting Dandelion make sure it’s from an area that hasn’t been treated with pesticides or herbicides. A lot of these plants will pull those toxins from the soil which allows for you to then ingest the toxins. Dandelions harvested in the early spring tend to have a sweeter taste to them, the further into the season the more bitter they become.

I enjoy gathering the leaves to add to my salads and harvesting the roots to roast and make into a dark rich tea. The flavor of the tea is a nutty earthy flavor that pares well with honey or cream or both if you wish to lighten the flavor.

I found its easiest to harvest the roots when the ground is wet, it allows for me to dig my tool deep into the soil and pull out the entire tap root. I use a simple hand held weeder with a stainless steal blade, it goes in clean, works around the root and allows for me to pull it all out keeping the root intact.

Once I’ve gathered the roots needed I spray them down with my hose. Knocking off as much of the mud and dirt as possible before taking them inside to soak in the sink with a half cup of vinegar to get the rest of the dirt. Once it’s soaked for a couple of hours, I take a simple sink brush and scrub all the dirt.

Once the roots are clean, I chop them up into small pieces and line them on top of parchment paper on a baking sheet and place them in the oven set at 350. I check them frequently, stirring and flipping them so that they roast evenly and don’t burn until they turn brown in color and give off a rich aromatic smell. Some people prefer to roast theirs on a skillet, I prefer the use of the oven since I tend to always burn mine on the skillet.

Once roasted you can store your Dandelion roots in an airtight container for several months.

Dandelion is a beautiful plant that deserves more recognition in the roles that it has played in our societies over the years, both as a food and for its medicinal purposes. Embrace these yellow flowers, let them take over your lawns to feed the bees and your family.

Web site references: http://www.actforlibraries.org/plant-history-how-dandelions-came-to-north-america/


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