Dandelion – Taraxacum Officinale
Ralf W. Emerson (1803-1882) stated it very well when he said: “What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not been discovered.”
Dandelion comes from the Latin words “dens leonis” meaning lion’s teeth.
Dandelion is a hardly perennial. The leaves are smooth and shaped like “teeth”. Single hollow stems emerge from the leaves holding the yellow flower.
The flower opens during the daytime and closes as it gets dark. The flowers are followed by round balls of seeds which readily flow with the wind.
Dandelion grows wild in temperate areas throughout Europe, North America and Asia. These plants can become up to about 30 cm (12 in) tall.
Dandelion root is well known as a coffee substitute. To be truthful dandelion coffee doesn’t taste coffee, only coffee tastes coffee. It is different and many people love it!
None the less dandelion root has enormous health benefits as a superb herbal detoxification remedy for the liver.
Dandelion leaves are edible and can be used raw in salads or stir fried.
Dandelion leaves used in cooking may taste bitter, especially if they are picked after flowering. Leaves are at their best when they are harvested young before the dandelions begin to bloom. Young dandelion leaves are very nutritious and add that little extra exciting flavor to the dish.
The dandelion flower is used to make tea, wine and jelly. Dandelion flowers can also be used as garnish or added to salads. Remember to put the dandelion flowers in still water for a few minutes to clean them before using.
Be very careful to only use dandelion which you are certain is organically grown. Dandelion picked from lawns that have been treated with chemicals is bad for you.
Do not pick dandelion from public parks as you have no way of knowing if the park maintenance crew has used chemicals during their work on the lawns.
You should be very picky when choosing what dandelions you want to harvest for eating. You do not want dandelions that have been polluted with any unhealthy substances.
Dandelion is rich in vitamin A, B complex, C, D. It also contains iron, potassium and zinc.
A hot beverage made from dandelion does have wonderful health benefits.
Dandelion root has one of the most effective detoxifying properties of all herbs. It is a good liver tonic; it is used for liver and gall bladder problems.
Dandelion root helps reduce cholesterol. It also helps with indigestion.
Dandelion leaves contain a lot of potassium. Potassium is especially good for the heart. It is also vital for the bone structure and may help prevent osteoporosis. As if that was not enough, potassium is a good source to fight high blood pressure.
Dandelion has been called “piss en lit” which is French for “wet the bed”. Dandelion leaves are known to be very diuretic; it promotes the production of urine.
When using dandelion supplements always follow the instructions and consult your doctor if you have any concerns.
Catsear – The False Dandelion
To determine if it is a catsear or a dandelion you need to take a closer look at the stem. The stem of the catsear is forked with more than one flower connected to the same main stem. The stem of the catsear is also solid (the stem of the dandelion is hollow).
You can also take a closer look at the leaves. The leaves of the catsear will seem hairy. That is not the case of the dandelion. The leaves of the dandelion are smooth.
The catsear is also edible, but only dandelion is dandelion. We want the good stuff which in this case is dandelion.