The Dandelion: Mistaken Identity Its No Weed

Taraxacum officinale (Dandelion) French dent-de-lion, meaning “lion’s tooth”.

To some its that pesky yellow weed that you find everywhere in residential lawns. To children its a play thing by picking one and blowing the seeds all over. Then you got the people who until reading the book The Hunger Games thought it was just a weed too. “I had just turned away from Peeta Mellark’s bruised face when I saw the dandelion and I knew hope wasn’t lost. I plucked it carefully and hurried home. I grabbed a bucket and Prim’s hand and headed to the Meadow and yes, it was dotted with the golden-headed weeds. After we’d harvested those, we scrounged along inside the fence for probably a mile until we filled the bucket with the dandelion greens, stems and flowers. (4.13)” .

(wikipedia) The flower petals, along with other ingredients, are used to make dandelion wine. The ground, roasted roots can be used as a caffeine-free dandelion coffee. Dandelion was also traditionally used to make the traditional British soft drink dandelion and burdock, and is one of the ingredients of root beer. Also, Dandelions were once delicacies eaten by the Victorian gentry mostly in salads and sandwiches.

Dandelion leaves contain abundant vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, C and K, and are good sources of calcium, potassium, iron and manganese.

Medicinal properties of dandelion treating infections, bile and liver problems, and as a diuretic

Benefits to gardeners: The dandelion plant is a beneficial weed, with a wide range of uses, and is even a good companion plant for gardening. Its taproot will bring up nutrients for shallower-rooting plants, and add minerals and nitrogen to soil.

There Can Be Dangers: Dandelion pollen may cause allergic reactions when eaten, or adverse skin reactions in sensitive individuals. Contact dermatitis after handling has also been reported, probably from the latex in the stems and leaves. Due to its high potassium level, dandelion can also increase the risk of hyperkalemia when taken with potassium-sparing diuretics. The consumption of dandelion leaves has also been implicated in occurrences of fasciolosis.

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