Updated: Feb 28, 2018
The dandelion originated in Asia as a food and medicine. It was brought to the United States by the Spanish and Germans. The name, dandelion, comes from the French language and is said "dents de lion" which means "teeth of the lion" and references the jagged leaves of the plant. This little plant is actually still grown as a crop in Belguim. (See more fun facts at simplesaurus.blogspot.com) Let's explore this little yellow beauty.
Here in the United States we have declared war on it and many products offer sure fire ways to rid your yard of the pesky plant. This war on the dandelion started after World War II when Americans began to spread out into suburban housing. A book called "A Lawn Without Dandelions" published in 1921 declared officially that the war had begun but are Americans fighting a plant that could be nourishing our bodies better than most other greens we eat?
Yes we are. The medical benefits of this plant are numerous and very underrated in this country. This plant is very well respected across the globe. It appears in the US National Formulatory and in the Pharmacopeias of Hungary, Poland, Switzerland and the Soviet Union. It is also, one of the top 6 herbs in Chinese herbal Medical Chests. It is a great source of beta-carotene, vitamin A, fiber, potassium, vitamin B, thiamine, riboflavin and protein. (Check out all the medical research and findings at leaflady.org)
Peter Gail states on the site, The Leaf Lady "Suppose your doctor tells you, on your next visit, that he has just discovered a miracle drug which, when eaten as a part of your daily diet or taken as a beverage, could, depending on the peculiarities of your body chemistry: prevent or cure liver diseases, such as hepatitis or jaundice; act as a tonic and gentle diuretic to purify your blood, cleanse your system, dissolve kidney stones, and otherwise improve gastrointestinal health; assist in weight reduction; cleanse your skin and eliminate acne; improve your bowel function, working equally well to relieve both constipation and diarrhea; prevent or lower high blood pressure; prevent or cure anemia; lower your serum cholesterol by as much as half; eliminate or drastically reduce acid indigestion and gas buildup by cutting the heaviness of fatty foods; prevent or cure various forms of cancer; prevent or control diabetes mellitus; and, at the same time, have no negative side effects and selectively act on only what ails you. If he gave you a prescription for this miracle medicine, would you use it religiously at first to solve whatever the problem is and then consistently for preventative body maintenance?"
I sure would! So now that we know this plant rocks and this war is a joke, what do we do with it. The whole plant is edible but there are some tricks to its preparation. The new green leaves, that haven't developed the saw toothed look, are best for salads. They can be a little bitter so they can be mixed with lettuce, corn, apples, or nuts. Additionally, they can be used in egg salad or potato salad. The older leaves (but not too old) can be sauteed and used with spinach (or as a spinach substitute) for recipes. People also pickle the leaves and use them to make kim chi. The flowers make great fritters, jam, can be used in stir fry, or as a coffee substitute and can also be made into wine. (See all the recipe details at motherearthnews.com) So let's stop the war on dandelions and start appreciating them for the super food they are!