Dandelion – Taraxacum Officinale
Most people seem to regard the dandelion as a nuisance, a weed they try to get rid of by all means.
That certainly is unfortunate and unfair as this wild plant truly is a precious gift to humans.
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.
They grow wild in temperate areas throughout Europe, North America and Asia. These plants can become up to about 30 cm (12 in) tall.
Dandelions are Edible and Tasty
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 the 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.
The 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 flowers in still water for a few minutes to clean them before using.
Use Only Organically Grown Dandelions
Be very careful to only use dandelions which you are certain is organically grown. Dandelions picked from lawns that have been treated with chemicals is bad for you.
Do not pick dandelions 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 plants you want to harvest for eating. You do not want dandelions that have been polluted with any unhealthy substances.
Dandelion Health Benefits
Dandelions are rich in vitamin A, B complex, C, D. It also contains iron, potassium and zinc.
A hot beverage made from awesome plant does have wonderful health benefits.
The 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.
Dandelions have been called “piss en lit” which is French for “wet the bed”.
The leaves are known to be very diuretic; it promotes the production of urine.
When using supplements always follow the instructions and consult your doctor if you have any concerns.
Catsear – The False Dandelion
Catsear is very similar to the dandelion. Many mistakenly think they have found dandelion when coming across catsear. The flowers of the two plants are hard to tell apart.
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.