Happy Tuesday and welcome to Herb Talk Tuesday! Every Tuesday you can come to the Shawnee Moon blog and read about a different herb! This week we are going to be chatting about (debatably) one of the most popular/notorious plants ever; the lowly dandelion.
Where to find it?
It is common in all of the northern hemisphere and typically can grow anywhere. A hearty perennial, this plant spreads by the seed heads (the ones you ‘make a wish and blow’) following their yellow blooms in late spring, mid summer. They will continue blooming all season into fall.
Most people are at least relatively familiar with this plant, as it is such a prolific bloomer all summer you have likely seen it in your yard, or the neighbors. We see it springing up in the cracks in sidewalks, filling medians and road sides. It is found in our yards to the dismay of many a homeowner, it is found in the hands of toddlers who pick them for their mommas.
But most of those same people do not realize the incredible wellness benefits that lie in within this little plant. So today, here on our Herb Talk Tuesday post, we are going to talk about those benefits!
What makes this a beneficial plant?
The whole plant is useful and edible and actually widely used as a culinary herb.
Dandelion flowers are used in salads, battered and fried, and made into dandelion wine; along with many other kitchen recipes. The leaves are eaten in salad, cooked as a green and juiced. They are quite bitter, unless you pick the earliest of spring leaves (even then still bitter to our typical American pallet), but this helps to elude to some of the plants best uses as a digestive supporting herb. The root is roasted and used as a coffee substitute.
Now let’s talk about why this plant should be more valued and not taken for granted so often. It is high in loads of trace minerals and vitamins, containing more nutrients than broccoli or spinach.
The leaves contain bitter glycosides, carotenoids, terpenoids, potassium salts, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, biotin, zinc, potassium, and vitamins A, B, C, D, E, P, B1, B2, B5, B6, B9, and B12.
It is considered a supportive tonic to the liver, kidneys, spleen and pancreas. Suggested as ‘spring cleaning’ herb, after the long winter helps detox and gently cleanse the blood and body of the heavy, salty foods we’ve eaten over the winter.
Cleanses gallbladder, liver, spleen, pancreas, gallbladder and bladder as it supports normal, healthy elimination through the urinary tract. The natural nutritive salts and potassium nourish the blood and body even as it cleanses, so you’re system is not deficient of needed nutrients.
While you can find dandelion growing almost anywhere, you want to be aware of the location and environment you wildcraft it from. This goes for most any plants.
- You rarely would want to wildcraft from roadsides and city areas because of the possibility of pollution contamination.
- You always get permission from landowners before foraging. (State parks are off limits!)
- Never take every single plant in a ‘stand’. Although dandelion is far from scarce and not in danger of being on a ‘rare plants’ list, we must always practice sustainable harvesting when wildcrafting. This just means take what you need (or less) to make sure that when you need it again, there is enough plants left behind to proliferate and continue to be self-sustaining.
Harvest dandelion leaves in early spring before the flower heads have started. These will be the most tender and least bitter, and all the energy of the plant is concentrated on making those leaves, so that’s where a lot of the nutrients will be. Notice that there can be lots of variations in the leaves. Most of them are deeply toothed (see image below, left leaf), while some are smoother or more ‘lobed’ (see below, right leaf).
Dandelion roots can be harvested in fall. Most any root herb should be. The above ground portion of the plant is spent after the long summer, and the nutrients are now focusing back on the roots so that it can sustain itself through a hard winter, so that is the best time to harvest roots.
With that said, I am also an advocate of if you need it, but the time is not exactly right for harvesting, it is okay to get it off season. It will be better than nothing at that point! Just remember to do it sustainably.
A gift for the dandelion lover in your life
These keepsake embroidered kitchen towels make a lovely gift for the plant lover on your list! Order yours here today, and allow 7-14 business days for your item to be handmade and then shipped directly to you.
What to do with it now that it’s harvested?
You can make dandelion tea with any part of the plant! It is a highly nutritious tea with all of its vitamins and minerals, you may find, though, that you will pee more frequently when taking dandelion!
Add some greens and dandelion blossoms to your next salad for some color and nourishment.
Make a tincture and take 1 drop per 10 pounds of body weight once or twice a day to support your whole eliminatory tract and provide an alkalizing effect on the system.
How do you use Dandelion herb?
Join the conversation and comment below with your tips and experiences with dandelion! I’d love to hear and learn from you! Join our facebook group here and share your photos of dandelion in your part of the world with me!
Thanks for stopping by and chatting this Tuesday! See you next time!
Blessings in Christ,