The dandelion was one of the more than 2000 herbs that were used when the settlers came from England. The roots have been used in tonics and liver cures, as well as to stop infections, skin diseases, dropsy, and to settle the digestive tract.
The name dandelion dates back to medieval France. Noting the jagged edges of the plants leaves, the French called it “dent-de-lion”, meaning tooth to the lion.
Easily recognized by its bright, golden yellow flower, the dandelion has deeply indented ground hugging leaves, and a hollow stem containing a harmless, bitter, milky juice. The dandelion usually comes out in early spring, as soon as the leaves begin to show. Controlling this weed is a never-ending battle and usually the dandelion is the winner.
Those who crave the unblemished lawn have little chance once the dandelion has taken hold. They seem to pop-up overnight every spring, and the plants stay around until the frost comes in the fall. With the European import by the settlers to the New World; the hardy perennial is generally found throughout North America and reproduces through an abundance of spreading of its seeds. In the United States it is plentiful on the Pacific coast, in the North Central states, and throughout the Northeast. In Canada it is almost prevalent in the eastern provinces.
This weed is resilient for a number of reasons. Its long, sick, tough, carrot-like root can burrow up to three feet underground making it difficult to eradicate. The Chinese call it “earth nail”. The flower head is not one Bloom, but are made up of hundreds of min-flowers, each independent of one another. These sunburst blossoms at the end of the stem turn into white, fluffy seed balls. They then blow off into all directions, spreading their seeds and finding root for the next year. The seeds are conceived without pollination or fertilization.
The leaves grow in a flat, rosette arrangement and only the hollow stalk shoots up to the present what appears to be a single blossom. The weed’s built-in clock is controlled by light, telling the flower to close each evening and to open again at sunrise.The resilient pest grows just about everywhere, and is extremely adaptable. You’ll find it in meadows, pastures, along roadsides, in highway mediums, in public parks, and grasslands. If you’re in the mood for picking, it shouldn’t be a difficult task.
Dandelion leaves are sold commercially in the Northeast, but their popularity is not widespread. Yet, the weed offers a little something for everyone. While the leaves can be plucked anytime, they are best in the early spring before the flower blooms and the leaves turn bitter. The spring roots are also tender. The best salads are made with fresh picked leaves, and our season like any other salads. They will be somewhat tangy and chewy. Some people even dip the leaves in batter and make dandelion fritters. The young leaves can also be cooked like spinach and served with the main course.
As the season progresses, the fall roots are much stronger. If you wash and dry the roots, then shred it in a blender, you can make dandelion tea. Some of claim that the tea helps people relax. If you roast the ground roots, you can make your own gourmet coffee substitute.
Dandelion wine became popular because it was inexpensive to make. It is made with the bloom making the best wine. Some families have followed this process from generation to generation. Others have used it for medicinal purposes. The dandelion has been on the list fof home remedies for what ails you. American colonists found its broth eased digestion and worked as a mild of laxative.
The dandelion was one of the more than 2000 herbs that were used when the settlers came from England. The roots have been used in tonics and liver cures, as well as to stop infections, skin diseases, dropsy, and to settle the digestive tract. Dandelion juice was credited with removing warts, blisters, freckles and growing hair on bald heads and eyebrows.
Dandelions aren’t excellent source of vitamin A. some B and contains proteins, calcium, iron, sodium, phosphorous and a decent amount of vitamin C. magnesium and potassium.
Stories about how good dandelions are have been around for years. What one usually hears from enthusiastic wild food promoters is, “All you need to do is find very young dandelion leaves in the early spring, before the flower stalks appear. If you do this they won’t be bitter. They’ll be the most delicious and nutritious fresh greens you will ever eat.”