Which leads me to think of the pesky and ever persistent dandelion plant. In my flower garden, the dandelion has no place among my Balloon flowers and my Lung-wart plants. But, it holds a higher level in the nontraditional medicine world.
From the University of Maryland Medical Center’s web site www.umm.edu. I found that the scientific name for the dandelion plant is Taraxacum Officinale. It is also known in herbal circles as “Dent-de-Lion or tooth of the lion”, “Lion’s Tooth”, “Priest’s Crown”, and “Swine’s Snout”. Then there are several gardeners who call it by other names, which we won’t mention here.
Did you know that all parts of the dandelion plant are edible or usable? www.gardensablaze.com. tells us that the flower of the dandelion has more antioxidants than a carrot and more potassium than broccoli or spinach! I have never eaten the flower, but as a child, it was a springtime tradition to hunt for tender dandelion leaves. We had to pick the young leaves prior to the bud emerging or they would have a bitter taste. My mom would wash the leaves gently, toss then with green onions from the garden (that had survived the winter snows) and hard boiled eggs, and then prepare a hot bacon dressing. She would pour this sweet and sour dressing over everything and we would eat a wilted salad. Little did I know that we were eating gourmet, before gourmet was the thing to do. This was also what my father would refer to as a “Spring Tonic.” He believed that dandelion provided energy to the body that winter had stolen away. Herbal science has proven him correct.
Again, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center at www.umm.edu, traditionally, dandelion roots and leaves were used to treat liver problems. Native Americans also boiled dandelion in water, and drank the resulting tea to treat kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and upset stomach. In traditional Chinese medicine, dandelion has been used to treat stomach problems, appendicitis, and breast inflammation and lack of milk flow. In Europe, it was used in remedies for fever, boils, eye problems, diabetes, and diarrhea. Today, herbalists use the roots as an appetite stimulant and to detoxify the liver, and the leaves as a diuretic to get rid of excess body fluid and to aid in digestion. A few animal studies have suggested that dandelion might help fight inflammation. Dandelion is available fresh (out of your lawn) and dried in a variety of forms, including tinctures, liquid, extracts, teas, tablets, and capsules. It can be found alone or combined with other dietary supplements. The use of herbs for medicinal purposes is a time-honored tradition. Herbs, however, contain components that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements and medications. For these reasons, you should take herbs with care, and under the supervision of a health care provider.
www.gardensablaze.com. reports that the humble dandelion has remarkable nutritional value. Just one cup of dandelion tea per day, over several months, might improve problems associated with a sedentary life style such as, constipation, digestive discomforts, and general sluggishness and fatigue. Dandelion coffee can be made by first retrieving the long tap root of the plant, washing it thoroughly, drying it in a slow (250 degree) oven and then grinding it in a coffee grinder. Folks that can’t tolerate caffeine can supposedly drink as much as they please and reap the health benefits without any side effects. The ground root can also be mixed with milk and sweetener for a creamy beverage with few calories. Frappes, steamers, and mochas move over!!! If you are especially adventurous, they further suggest one could try dandelion scrambled eggs, using the following recipe:
Melt 1 Tablespoon of butter in a medium frying pan; add 15 dandelion buds and sauté until they begin to open. With a fork, whisk 4 eggs with 2 Tablespoons of milk or water until frothy. Pour eggs over buds and stir constantly until desired consistency. Garnish with a few washed dandelion flowers. Serves 2.
I wonder how McDonald’s would feel about this one in a wrap, on their menu? Remember, I’m not suggesting this for breakfast, and I’m not saving this recipe in my
“to try” box, but for some, it is a possibility!
www.gardensablaze.com. also reports a recipe for dandelion wine made from 3 quarts of dandelion flowers without the stems, but we will save that one for another day. Speaking of stems, this web site reports that supposedly, if you are stung by a wasp or bee, the white sap from the broken stem of the dandelion plant will relieve the pain. This same sap is said to be able to remove warts and calluses. The hearty dandelion grows all over the world and does not care about soil conditions. If you have ever tried to dig a dandelion plant out of your sidewalk slabs you will attest to this. It is one of the few plants that can regenerate foliage, even if all of it is cut off. Again, look at your lawn the next morning after mowing and count the number of new dandelion flowers. Then just shake your head in wonder. Seeds travel remarkable distances on the wind, and regenerate in just a bit of soil and sunlight. Ever spot a bit of yellow on a rocky ledge? The dandelion flower opens during the day and closes at night. Folklore has it that if the dandelion flower closes during the day, rain is on the way, or if a seeds fall off the head without any wind, cancel your picnic. Superstition has it that if you make a wish, and then blow all the seeds off a seed head, your wish will come true. Although in my opinion, dandelions aren’t the most aromatic of flowers, superstition also has it that if you rub the dandelion flowers all over yourself, you will be welcome everywhere you go and your wishes will be granted!
Now, hopefully, you will have gained a new respect for the dandelion plant. I personally am not about to rush out and plant a bed of them and my husband would certainly not appreciate any new culinary ideas I may have acquired. But I may look at the dandelion plant in a new light as the first bursts of yellow appear in the spring. In recognition, and for more information about dandelions: