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Beauty

Dandelion Blessings!

Dandelion Blessings!
Dandelion Blessings!

The first yellow spots in the lawn and along roadsides are telling me every year that winter is finally over, and that the promise of life has come back, and Mother Earth will provide for us with an abundance of food and beauty again.

Shining like little yellow stars they take over controlled lawns. They burst from every crack in sidewalks and roads. They even settle and bloom on damaged, disturbed soul. Which wildflower could be better metaphor for adaptation, and change, with its will and potential to not only survival but also thrive in the most hostile of situations. And while she does that she shines bright, with a smile of abundant happiness.

The Dandelions are back. For some people they are pest and threat, but for me they are a blessing. Anchoring themselves firm into the ground, they produce leaves and flowers over and over. They follow us around transforming disturbed soils into nourishing places for other plants. With their long taproots they bring nutrients which are buried deep in compacted soil to the surface benefiting other plants in the neighborhood. They feed the bees from March through September, often the first and the last plant to offer nectar to many species of insects. They serve as weather oracles. When rain is to be expected they will close their shiny flower heads, and recover when the sun comes back. And apparently they have a built-in clockwork that makes the flowers retire at around 5 pm until around 9 am in the morning. Thus some of her common names, Fairy Clock, Clock, Clock Flowers, Clocks and watches, Farmers Clock, Old Man’s Clock, One Clock. But she is known by many more names which all tell us a little about her abundant, wild personality: Lions Teeth, Pee in the bed, Wetweed, Blowball, Cankerwort, Lionsthootsh, Priests Crown, Puffball, Swinsnout, White Endive, Wild Endive. Her most common name Dandelion is a corruption of her French name Dent de Lion which means lion’s tooth.

Taraxacum officinale, the botanical name for this little powerhouse tells us a little about her potential. Taraxacum, is derived from the Greek words taraxos which translates into ‘disorder’, and akos which means remedy. Thus the botanical name suggests that the little plant has some medicinal properties. And the term officinale suggests that the plant is a species officially used in medicine.

Dandelion has been known as a medicinal plant in Chinese history medicinal herb for many centuries. In the 11th century it is mentioned in Arabian literature, and through the Arabs it became popular in Europe. To America it was introduced by European immigrants when it arrived with the Mayflower, soon establishing a home on this continent.

Appearance

The dandelion is a perennial from the family compositae (sunflowers). Being a perennial her jagged leaves with irregular teeth grow from a basal rosette rosette Iying close upon the ground. Long before the last frost of spring you will see the dandelion plant sending up a cluster of these reddish leaves. On top of a hollow, shiny, and purplish flower stalk sits a single yellow flower. Each bloom is made up of numerous strapshaped florets of a bright golden yellow which provide an abundant supply of nectar. The plant has a milky juice in all parts. If you want to identify the plant remember that the Dandelion has no stems. All leaves and hollow flower stalks grow directly from the root.

The importance of Dandelions as honey-producing plants is in the provision of considerable quantities of both pollen and nectar in the early spring. They are a food source when the bees’ harvest from fruit trees is nearly over but other flowers are not in bloom yet. Another aspect is that Dandelions flower long after other flowers have ceased to bloom in the fall providing enough nectar for the bees that late in the year.

Flowering time is from March through at least September, and depending on climate zones all year. When the plant matures she transforms her flowers into little puffballs. These puffballs are formed by a cluster seeds which are connected to little ‘parachutes’ that will be spread by the wind. These seeds are also favorable food for wild birds.

Harvest

There are different opinions on when to harvest Dandelions. Some say you can harvest the plant year round. I prefer a different approach though. For culinary purposes you want to harvest young leaves, which will pop up year round, but are most abundant in the spring. The older the plant part, the more bitter they are. Make sure to avoid sprayed lawns, and don’t harvest at roadsides. Wild meadows provide the best quality of plants. If harvesting flowers, look for flowers that are intact, and have a healthy, radiant appearance. Since the root provides the plant with nutrients during the spring and summer I wait until the fall, when the plant goes into dormancy to harvest the root. This is the time when the root has its highest potential.

Properties and Usage

Dandelions are little powerhouses of nutrition and medicine. A general stimulant to the system they are a great choice for kidney and liver disorders, and metabolic imbalances.

They are high in Calcium, Phosphor, Thiamin, Magnesium, Potassium, Iron, and Vitamin A and C., and also a significant source of minerals when added to our food. As medicinal preparations like tinctures, tonics, and teas, they help with many ailments like high blood pressure, gout, bloating, water retention, to name just a few. As powerful diuretics they restore healthy circulation of fluids throughout the body, and are nourishing for the kidneys. Because of their high amount of potassium they have the advantage over other diuretics that they do not leach potassium from the body in the process.

The bitter constituents (i.e. taraxacin and triterpenes besides others) are stimulating to the liver. This makes the plant a good choice for everybody with liver problems including hepatitis. It is unvaluable in any detox cure, by itself or combined with Burdock root. With its cooling properties it helps to balance inflammation, clearing chronic skin issues and acne. While Dandelion promotes bile movement care should be taken with already existing stones. The moving bile could actually cause more problems and pain by lodging stones in the duct.

Also, care should be taken by those who have low blood pressure or already excessive urination.

The leaves and stalks contain a milky juice or latex that make a great remedy for warts.

Harvest

Harvest the roots in the fall, by digging them up with a narrow spade. The long taproots can get up to 10” long, so be prepared for some digging. Clean them from any excess soil, cut into pieces and dry them preferably on a rack. They need air circulation to avoid molding.

When harvesting the leaves look for young ones if possible because they turn bitterer with age. Flowers should be harvested when strong and radiant. Leaves can be dried in a space away from the sun with enough air flow to avoid molding. Flowers should be processed right away.

Dandelion juice made from the roots and leaves can aide with Diabetes.

Preparations:

There are different ways to prepare teas, infusions, decoctions, juices, and tinctures. If you use the plant medicinally please always consult with your medical care provider to avoid unwanted interactions with prescription or your treatment plan. Also always know if you are allergic to certain plants. Below I added some descriptions of preparations to give some inspiration for your journey with Dandelions.

Medicinal

Dandelion Tea (for liver support):

Add 2 tsp. dried herb to one coup of cold water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, let steep for 15 min., strain. Drink one cup each morning and evening for about 4 – 6 weeks.

Tinctures:

A) Combine 1 part fresh root with 2 parts alcohol, vinegar or glycerin in a jar. Let macerate for 4 weeks. Strain. Use ½ to 1 tsp. 4 times/day for about 3 – 4 weeks. You may want to consider using glycerin as a me
nstruum because it cuts on the bitter, and is less impacting for the liver.

B) Combine 1 part dried or well wilted fresh herb with 2 parts alcohol, vinegar or lecithin in a jar. Let macerate for 4 weeks. Strain. Use 10 – 15 drops, 3 times/day.

Juice:

Dig up some roots, clean from soil, and juice in electric juicer. This will be very bitter, and you want to either juice other root veggies like carrots and beets with this, or add the juice by the spoonful to tea or fruit juices.

Spring cleanse:

Prepare a decoction of each 1 Tb Dandelion root and Burdock root. Place the roots in a sauce pan, pour 1 pint of water over them, bring to a boil, remove from heat and let step for 30 minutes.

At the same time make a tea from 1 Tb each Dandelion leaf, Nettle leaf, Red Clover leaf and blossom. Pour 1 pint hot water over the dried herbs, let steep for 15 minutes.

After straining both, combine. Drink this blend during the day for ten days. Please prepare fresh every day, and keep refrigerated.

Culinary

Besides using Dandelion as a powerful supporter of your healing processes, you can also use it culinary. Here are some recipes which I used so far. Enjoy.

One of my favorites every year is Dandelion Pesto:

Here is what you need for about 1 pint:

2 cups Dandelions greens, ½ cup sunflower seeds, ¼ cup walnuts, ¼ cup olive oil, 1 – 2 cloves garlic, ¼ cup parmesan, 1 Tb lemon juice

To reduce the bitter leach the plants by soaking them in cold water for 10 min., then discard the water. Repeat three times. After the leaching process place all the ingredients in a blender. Using the pulsing mode first, I blend until I have a smooth paste. Taste test, and add more oil or parmesan as needed.

This is perfect on spaghetti, or with crackers (preferably homemade).

You can also just add young leaves to your sandwich replacing the lettuce. You can add them to any salad. They can be cooked like spinach, or mixed with other stir fry greens.

Here are some ideas. Notice that I will not give you any measure on how much you need of what. I trust your creativity, and that you will find just the right blends for your liking.

Stir fry:

Sautee some red onion slices in olive oil. Add chopped garlic. Add dandelion, beet, kale, chard greens. Serve over polenta, rice, fish.

Salad:

In a big bowl arrange all kinds of salad greens. Arugula, lettuces, spinach, Dandelions, Yarrow, Purslane. You can make a vinaigrette from olive oil and balsamico vinegar, with some orange and/or lemon juice added, salt, pepper, and garlic to taste. Pour the vinaigrette over the greens and toss.

“Coffee”:

The roots can be used to make a coffee-like beverage. After thoroughly cleaning and drying the root in the oven you slightly roast them. Grind them and brew like coffee meal.

Myth and folklore:

Of course does a beautiful plant also come with beautiful stories and myth. Dandelions are great weather forecasters. Their flowers close very predictably at 9 am in the morning, and 5 pm in the evening. Thus they were called “Fairy clock”. Depending on where you live that might be subject to change, but please observe the plant so can set your time.

By the behavior of the flowers you can also predict the weather. When rain approaches the flowers will close ahead of the shower. The plant is thus a natural barometer.

Dandelions also served as a divination tool. One way to utilize her was to blow the seed head. They said the number of seeds remaining is the number of children you will have. In dream work they represent happy unions. Their golden appearance was associated with luck, abundance and happiness.

Another belief is that when you blow the seeds of a dandelion they will carry wishes and affections to the person thought of.

I hope you enjoyed this little journey with the Dandelion, and I want to encourage you to make your own experiences with this powerful plant, as with many others. Experiment with it as food, use it as your medicine, meditate with it, and let it lighten up your day.

The first yellow spots in the lawn and along roadsides are telling me every year that winter is finally over, and that the promise of life has come back, and Mother Earth will provide for us with an abundance of food and beauty again.

Shining like little yellow stars they take over controlled lawns. They burst from every crack in sidewalks and roads. They even settle and bloom on damaged, disturbed soul. Which wildflower could be better metaphor for adaptation, and change, with its will and potential to not only survival but also thrive in the most hostile of situations. And while she does that she shines bright, with a smile of abundant happiness.

The Dandelions are back. For some people they are pest and threat, but for me they are a blessing. Anchoring themselves firm into the ground, they produce leaves and flowers over and over. They follow us around transforming disturbed soils into nourishing places for other plants. With their long taproots they bring nutrients which are buried deep in compacted soil to the surface benefiting other plants in the neighborhood. They feed the bees from March through September, often the first and the last plant to offer nectar to many species of insects. They serve as weather oracles. When rain is to be expected they will close their shiny flower heads, and recover when the sun comes back. And apparently they have a built-in clockwork that makes the flowers retire at around 5 pm until around 9 am in the morning. Thus some of her common names, Fairy Clock, Clock, Clock Flowers, Clocks and watches, Farmers Clock, Old Man’s Clock, One Clock. But she is known by many more names which all tell us a little about her abundant, wild personality: Lions Teeth, Pee in the bed, Wetweed, Blowball, Cankerwort, Lionsthootsh, Priests Crown, Puffball, Swinsnout, White Endive, Wild Endive. Her most common name Dandelion is a corruption of her French name Dent de Lion which means lion’s tooth.

Taraxacum officinale, the botanical name for this little powerhouse tells us a little about her potential. Taraxacum, is derived from the Greek words taraxos which translates into ‘disorder’, and akos which means remedy. Thus the botanical name suggests that the little plant has some medicinal properties. And the term officinale suggests that the plant is a species officially used in medicine.

Dandelion has been known as a medicinal plant in Chinese history medicinal herb for many centuries. In the 11th century it is mentioned in Arabian literature, and through the Arabs it became popular in Europe. To America it was introduced by European immigrants when it arrived with the Mayflower, soon establishing a home on this continent.

Appearance

The dandelion is a perennial from the family compositae (sunflowers). Being a perennial her jagged leaves with irregular teeth grow from a basal rosette rosette Iying close upon the ground. Long before the last frost of spring you will see the dandelion plant sending up a cluster of these reddish leaves. On top of a hollow, shiny, and purplish flower stalk sits a single yellow flower. Each bloom is made up of numerous strapshaped florets of a bright golden yellow which provide an abundant supply of nectar. The plant has a milky juice in all parts. If you want to identify the plant remember that the Dandelion has no stems. All leaves and hollow flower stalks grow directly from the root.

The importance of Dandelions as honey-producing plants is in the provision of considerable quantities of both pollen and nectar in the early spring. They are a food source when the bees’ harvest from fruit trees is nearly over but other flowers are not in bloom yet. Another aspect is that Dandelions flower long after other flowers have ceased to bloom in the fall providing enough nectar for the bees that late in the year.

Flowering time is from March through at least September, and depending on climate zones all year. When the plant matures she transforms her flowers into little puffballs. These puffballs are formed by a cluster seeds which are connected to little ‘parachutes’ that will be spread by the wind. These seeds are also favorable food for wild birds.

Harvest

There are different opinions on when to harvest Dandelions. Some say you can harvest the plant year round. I prefer a different approach though. For culinary purposes you want to harvest young leaves, which will pop up year round, but are most abundant in the spring. The older the plant part, the more bitter they are. Make sure to avoid sprayed lawns, and don’t harvest at roadsides. Wild meadows provide the best quality of plants. If harvesting flowers, look for flowers that are intact, and have a healthy, radiant appearance. Since the root provides the plant with nutrients during the spring and summer I wait until the fall, when the plant goes into dormancy to harvest the root. This is the time when the root has its highest potential.

Properties and Usage

Dandelions are little powerhouses of nutrition and medicine. A general stimulant to the system they are a great choice for kidney and liver disorders, and metabolic imbalances.

They are high in Calcium, Phosphor, Thiamin, Magnesium, Potassium, Iron, and Vitamin A and C., and also a significant source of minerals when added to our food. As medicinal preparations like tinctures, tonics, and teas, they help with many ailments like high blood pressure, gout, bloating, water retention, to name just a few. As powerful diuretics they restore healthy circulation of fluids throughout the body, and are nourishing for the kidneys. Because of their high amount of potassium they have the advantage over other diuretics that they do not leach potassium from the body in the process.

The bitter constituents (i.e. taraxacin and triterpenes besides others) are stimulating to the liver. This makes the plant a good choice for everybody with liver problems including hepatitis. It is unvaluable in any detox cure, by itself or combined with Burdock root. With its cooling properties it helps to balance inflammation, clearing chronic skin issues and acne. While Dandelion promotes bile movement care should be taken with already existing stones. The moving bile could actually cause more problems and pain by lodging stones in the duct.

Also, care should be taken by those who have low blood pressure or already excessive urination.

The leaves and stalks contain a milky juice or latex that make a great remedy for warts.

Harvest

Harvest the roots in the fall, by digging them up with a narrow spade. The long taproots can get up to 10” long, so be prepared for some digging. Clean them from any excess soil, cut into pieces and dry them preferably on a rack. They need air circulation to avoid molding.

When harvesting the leaves look for young ones if possible because they turn bitterer with age. Flowers should be harvested when strong and radiant. Leaves can be dried in a space away from the sun with enough air flow to avoid molding. Flowers should be processed right away.

Dandelion juice made from the roots and leaves can aide with Diabetes.

Preparations:

There are different ways to prepare teas, infusions, decoctions, juices, and tinctures. If you use the plant medicinally please always consult with your medical care provider to avoid unwanted interactions with prescription or your treatment plan. Also always know if you are allergic to certain plants. Below I added some descriptions of preparations to give some inspiration for your journey with Dandelions.

Medicinal

Dandelion Tea (for liver support):

Add 2 tsp. dried herb to one coup of cold water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat, let steep for 15 min., strain. Drink one cup each morning and evening for about 4 – 6 weeks.

Tinctures:

A) Combine 1 part fresh root with 2 parts alcohol, vinegar or glycerin in a jar. Let macerate for 4 weeks. Strain. Use ½ to 1 tsp. 4 times/day for about 3 – 4 weeks. You may want to consider using glycerin as a me
nstruum because it cuts on the bitter, and is less impacting for the liver.

B) Combine 1 part dried or well wilted fresh herb with 2 parts alcohol, vinegar or lecithin in a jar. Let macerate for 4 weeks. Strain. Use 10 – 15 drops, 3 times/day.

Juice:

Dig up some roots, clean from soil, and juice in electric juicer. This will be very bitter, and you want to either juice other root veggies like carrots and beets with this, or add the juice by the spoonful to tea or fruit juices.

Spring cleanse:

Prepare a decoction of each 1 Tb Dandelion root and Burdock root. Place the roots in a sauce pan, pour 1 pint of water over them, bring to a boil, remove from heat and let step for 30 minutes.

At the same time make a tea from 1 Tb each Dandelion leaf, Nettle leaf, Red Clover leaf and blossom. Pour 1 pint hot water over the dried herbs, let steep for 15 minutes.

After straining both, combine. Drink this blend during the day for ten days. Please prepare fresh every day, and keep refrigerated.

Culinary

Besides using Dandelion as a powerful supporter of your healing processes, you can also use it culinary. Here are some recipes which I used so far. Enjoy.

One of my favorites every year is Dandelion Pesto:

Here is what you need for about 1 pint:

2 cups Dandelions greens, ½ cup sunflower seeds, ¼ cup walnuts, ¼ cup olive oil, 1 – 2 cloves garlic, ¼ cup parmesan, 1 Tb lemon juice

To reduce the bitter leach the plants by soaking them in cold water for 10 min., then discard the water. Repeat three times. After the leaching process place all the ingredients in a blender. Using the pulsing mode first, I blend until I have a smooth paste. Taste test, and add more oil or parmesan as needed.

This is perfect on spaghetti, or with crackers (preferably homemade).

You can also just add young leaves to your sandwich replacing the lettuce. You can add them to any salad. They can be cooked like spinach, or mixed with other stir fry greens.

Here are some ideas. Notice that I will not give you any measure on how much you need of what. I trust your creativity, and that you will find just the right blends for your liking.

Stir fry:

Sautee some red onion slices in olive oil. Add chopped garlic. Add dandelion, beet, kale, chard greens. Serve over polenta, rice, fish.

Salad:

In a big bowl arrange all kinds of salad greens. Arugula, lettuces, spinach, Dandelions, Yarrow, Purslane. You can make a vinaigrette from olive oil and balsamico vinegar, with some orange and/or lemon juice added, salt, pepper, and garlic to taste. Pour the vinaigrette over the greens and toss.

“Coffee”:

The roots can be used to make a coffee-like beverage. After thoroughly cleaning and drying the root in the oven you slightly roast them. Grind them and brew like coffee meal.

Myth and folklore:

Of course does a beautiful plant also come with beautiful stories and myth. Dandelions are great weather forecasters. Their flowers close very predictably at 9 am in the morning, and 5 pm in the evening. Thus they were called “Fairy clock”. Depending on where you live that might be subject to change, but please observe the plant so can set your time.

By the behavior of the flowers you can also predict the weather. When rain approaches the flowers will close ahead of the shower. The plant is thus a natural barometer.

Dandelions also served as a divination tool. One way to utilize her was to blow the seed head. They said the number of seeds remaining is the number of children you will have. In dream work they represent happy unions. Their golden appearance was associated with luck, abundance and happiness.

Another belief is that when you blow the seeds of a dandelion they will carry wishes and affections to the person thought of.

I hope you enjoyed this little journey with the Dandelion, and I want to encourage you to make your own experiences with this powerful plant, as with many others. Experiment with it as food, use it as your medicine, meditate with it, and let it lighten up your day.

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