Dandelion – So Much More Than a Weed

As dandelions start to pop up out of the earth I see them with brand new eyes. No longer do I look at them as weeds that I want to obliterate from my garden. They are now a very welcome sight which have so much to give.

For the first time I find myself delaying cutting the grass in the hope that a few more dandelions will pop up their beautiful yellow heads. I’m excited to cultivate them, especially their roots.

Apparently digging up dandelion roots you are never truly rid of them because a little of the root always remains and grows back. Due to my love of foraging hearing this fact is a joy to be heard because there is so much that I can do with them.

Never again will I spray these little beauties with weed killer!

VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION:

Please note that it is illegal to dig up dandelion roots without the consent of the landowner. Take a look at my “Foraging Tips for Beginners post for more information;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/foraging-tips-for-beginners/

Other Dandelion Names and Folklore

There are so many names that the dandelion (taraxacum officinale ) is known by and some of these include;

  • Blow-Ball – This name is due to the white balls that appear when the dandelions go to seed. The seeds are whisked away by a gust of wind or perhaps blown while making a wish.
  • Lion’s Tooth -This comes from a French word “dent-de-lion” which means lion’s tooth and relates to the dandelions toothed leaves.
  • Swine’s Snout -This nickname comes from the look of the dandelion when it closes up before seeding.  Apparently when this happens the bud resembles a pig’s snout.
  • Telltime – Folklore says that time is told by seeing how many blows it takes to blow all the seeds from a dandelion seed ball. This is done by counting each blow and the total number should show the hour of the day.
  • Pissenlit This is another French name and by far the most amusing dandelion nickname. Pissenlit means pee-the-bed and the name is used because of the dandelions diuretic properties. The English country alternative is “wet the bed.”

Eating Dandelion Leaves

After washing some of the first dandelion leaves of the season I put them onto a salad. Adding my gorse pickles makes the salad a foraging feast.

Take a look at my gorse post if you want to see how to make your own gorse pickles;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/pickling-gorse-flower-buds-bach-remedies-hopelessness-gorse-syrup-gorse-pickles/

Unfortunately the dandelion leaves were too strong and bitter for my taste but I always do steer away from bitter salad leaves.

However I may need to think again. My “Hedgerow Medicine” book by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal informs me that the bitterness of the leaves is good for the digestion. Apparently it stimulates secretion of digestive fluids so I best get used to that bitter taste with my poor digestion.

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Maybe next time I can cook and use it like spinach. Especially worth a try knowing that dandelion contains potassium, vitamins A, B and C, and are a rich source of iron.

Some of the ways that dandelion may ease the body are with regards to;

  • Cleansing because it is a powerful diurectic
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Indigestion
  • Lack of appetite
  • Kidney and liver disorders
  • Muscular rheumatism
  • Stimulating the flow of bile

Dandelions and Bees

Dandelions are not only useful to us but to bees too. They help to prolong a bees life because they are one of the early spring flowers and are rich in pollen and nectar.

Making Dandelion Infused Oil

My “Hedgerow Medicine” book also inspires me to make dandelion infused oil.  I absolutely love their book series and I’m finding them invaluable.

As previously mentioned I don’t have many dandelion flowers growing in my garden. However my next door neighbours have loads growing in theirs so I don’t need to worry about the bees.

Therefore I make the oil as follows;

  1. I wash the flowers and place them into a small jar.
  2. Covering the flowers with extra virgin olive oil I ensure that there are no air pockets left.
  3. Then I cover the jar with a piece of cheesecloth and secure it with an elastic band.
  4. I leave the jar in a sunny windowsill.
  5. After a week or two the flowers lose their colour and the oil is ready to strain.

I look at the jar on a daily basis so that I can push down any dandelions that try to break the surface of the oil. This stops them turning mouldy.

I love my cheesecloth  which is lasting ages and here is a link to show what I use;

https://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/710-53481-19255-0/1?icep_id=114&ipn=icep&toolid=20004&campid=5338456669&mpre=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ebay.co.uk%2Fitm%2FRegency-Naturals-Ultra-Fine-Cheesecloth-Cheese-Cloth-9-Square-Foot-100-Natural%2F231981197258%3Fepid%3D22011371971%26hash%3Ditem36032827ca%3Ag%3AfPgAAOSw2~Zb2t4L%26frcectupt%3Dtrue

Suggestions where the oil may support the body are with regards to;

  • Arthritis
  • Dry skin
  • Muscle aches and tension
  • Stiff neck

Add essential oils as a natural preservative. I am drawn to adding lavender because it is gentle on the skin. When taking a bath I often add lavender oil because of its gentleness and the smell relaxes me.

N.B Do not use lavender oil with psoriasis because of its ability to generate cell growth.

Review of the Oil

You can eat the dandelion oil  but I rub it onto my heals after bathing because I want to soften them. After applying I put on comfortable slipper socks because the oil is a little sticky and I don’t want to tread it everywhere.

Herbal solutions are more successful for me than the battery powered pedicure I usually use. As a result of using the battery powered pedicure my heels became a lot rougher!

My heels feel very smooth while using the dandelion infused oil. I also sometimes use the gel from the leaves of my aloe vera plants which are also more successful than the battery operated option.

Find out more about the beauty of aloe vera plants here;

http://theforagingherbalist.com/amazing-aloe-vera-plants-growing-aloe-vera-plants-burns-insect-bites-air-purifying-plant-air-purifier/

Dandelion Coffee

 

Dandelion root coffee can be a strong diuretic and therefore I am avoiding drinking this one myself due to bladder issues.

The last time I drank coffee was as a small child. What I remember most is dipping ginger nut biscuits into the coffee and making the biscuits so soggy that bits of them fell into the mug. I’m sure I’m not the only one to remember the sloppy mess in the bottom of the mug once the coffee is all drank.

Therefore I pass the dandelion coffee onto the house coffee expert to try – my husband! He is weaning himself off coffee and caffeine for health reasons. This is extremely hard for him because he loves coffee so much and I’m hoping that dandelion coffee may give him an alternative option.

I can already see more dandelions poking their heads out in the garden ready to make some more. For now I will leave the bees to enjoy them.

Making Dandelion Coffee

There are many ideas out there on the best way to make dandelion coffee. I decided to mix a few of the ideas together and came up with the following;

  1. Wash the dandelion roots as best as I can while scrubbing them with my fingers and nails under running water.
  2. Leave them in a sunny windowsill for a day to dry.
  3. Chop them up into very tiny pieces and place them onto a baking tray.
  4. Place the baking tray in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees centigrade for 30 minutes. They smell beautiful as they roast.
  5.  Let them cool and then ground them using a pestle and mortar.
  6. Place 1 cup of water into a saucepan.
  7. Add 1-2 teaspoons of the ground root (dependent upon taste).
  8. Add a pinch of cinnamon.
  9. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes
  10. Strain into a mug using a tea strainer.
  11. Add sweetener and milk, or cream if desired. I like the idea of adding coconut milk and stevia drops.

My Husband’s Review of the Dandelion Coffee

Firstly holding his mug in both hands he inhales deeply to smell the drink. He informs me that it has a weak coffee smell, like coffee cake.

Next he drinks the coffee and smilingly reports that it had a definite coffee taste. My husband also likes the added cinnamon which he says gives it a sweeter taste and adds to its overall flavour.

Its good that the cinnamon sweetens the coffee because my husband prefers his coffee black with no sugar. He believes that adding milk to the dandelion coffee may overwhelm its flavour and it would then require more root per cup.

He especially likes the coffee being well roasted  because he likes a roasted taste.

As a result my husband would definitely like to have dandelion coffee again as a replacement.

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Cautions;
  • Don’t use in the presence of a blocked bile duct
  • Avoid while pregnant or breast feeding
  • Do not use for severe fluid retention
  • Do not take large doses if you have gallstones
  • Web MD warns   “Ragweed allergy – Dandelion can cause allergic reactions when taken by mouth or applied to the skin of sensitive people. Those allergic to ragweed and related plants (daisies, chrysanthemums, and marigolds) are likely to be allergic to dandelion. If you have allergies check with your doctor before taking dandelion.”

Be aware that you never know if you’re intolerant to something new until you try it for the first time. Therefore only try a tiny amount first and wait a day or two to check that there is no adverse reaction. 

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medications, always check with your doctor to ensure that using any of these suggestions don’t contradict them.

 

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