Scientific Name: Taraxacum
Biological Class: Genus
Edible part of plant: All (includes blossoms, stems, leaves, and roots)
***NOTE: When foraging these plants, make sure you are NOT picking where weed killer was applied.
The most misunderstood “weed”, the Dandelion, is essential for the pollination process in the environment and is necessary for your garden. It is also full of nutrients and medicinal properties when consumed raw or cooked. Many people have used herbicides/pesticides on their lawn and have had it eradicated from their yard. They are missing out on the benefits of this “weed”.
The reason why the Dandelion is essential for the pollination process in the environment is because, it’s primarily the first source of pollen/nectar for the bees in the spring. Bees have another purpose besides making honey, and that is pollinating plants in order to produce fruits and vegetables in your gardens. Bees are attracted to these little flowers in your yard, when they find these flowers in the Spring, they will continue to return to collect the nectar because they have established their “route” sort to speak. When your fruit and vegetables start to flower, the bees that were collecting the nectar from the dandelions, will find the flowered vegetable/fruit plants along their route and will pollinate. Pollination is necessary for the production of fruits and vegetables, without pollinators, you will have an unsuccessful crop.
The other benefit of the Dandelion is that its full on nutrients and has medicinal properties. The nutrients include essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants: Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Vitamin B6, and Magnesium. The plant can be eaten raw or cooked. It can be prepared the same as any leafy green vegetable; like spinach or loose leaf lettuce, and consumed raw in a salad. It is quite tasty sautéed in oil with dash of salt and pepper added to the dish. The plant can also be seeped in a tea; it adds a unique herbal flavor to your drink. Tea is a tasty, and time-saving way, to consume the essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
One of the health benefits that is not widely known about the Dandelion is that its useful in treating eczema, acne and other skin conditions. The dandelion sap, also known as “Dandelion milk”, is found inside the stem. Apply the milky white sap directly to the skin blemish. The sap is known to also ease any itchiness that is experienced from the skin condition. There are no side effects of using this plant except; although rare, an individual could possibly develop an allergic reaction. It’s always a good idea, that if you’re trying something new, to try a small amount first.
There are a multitude of health benefits of using Dandelion. It has been used in both Eastern and Western homeopathic medicine. It is a plant product that is known to aid in digestion, reduce inflammation, and cause detoxification. More research/studies need to be conducted due to the inconclusive results; however the nutrients and antioxidant elements that are found in this plant are valuable reasons to consume this plant. Due to the benefits the Dandelion have: for human health, maintaining a healthy environment, and indirectly responsible for a bountiful garden, isn’t worth keeping the dandelions in your yard?
A weed is nothing more than an unloved flower.