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Diggin’ Roots (taraxacum officinale) Dandelion

It always makes me a little sad when spring rolls around and I hear everyone talking about the best way to kill the dandelions popping up in their yard.  I love dandelions!  They’re all soft and yellow and pretty and girlie, but then you see the leaves and realize this sweet little flower is growing out of this bad-ass patch of spikey-looking  leaves and it has a tap root that reaches deeper than I have ever been able to dig. Then, it fades out into this soft little puff-ball that is totally capable of making all of your wishes come true if you can get all the fluffies off with a single blow…


And, of course, there is the valuable medicinal properties of the plant, too.  All of this together makes the thought of trying to destroy the dandelions leaves me a little misty-eyed.

So, in an effort to do my part in saving this valiant, noble plant from extinction, I collect it.  Seeds, leaves, roots…I have a purpose for them all!  I guess, since I like you all so very much, I will share my dandelion secrets with you.

I love to gather the leaves when they are young and small to add to our dinner table.  They taste amazing when you throw them in with some fresh lettuce and spinach, maybe a few nuts and raisins, then drizzle a bit of lemon juice and Bragg amino acids over them. OMG!!! Delicious!  There is so much more to this awesome weed, though.  They are packed with vitamins and nutrients!  In a serving of dandelion greens, you get more beta-carotene than you would from a serving of carrots, more iron and calcium than a serving of spinach, vitamins B-1, B-2, B-5, B-6, B-12, C, E, P, and D, biotin, inositol, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc. Who needs a multi-vitamin when you have these babies growing right there in your yard?

Then, you have the flowers.  Those charming yellow spots of happiness that pop up, seemingly from nowhere, to decorate your otherwise drab landscape.  These, too, are wonderfully delicious.  Sprinkle the petals over your next salad for a striking spot of tasty nutrition…batter and deep fry them for a scrumptious snack…make some wine and forget all of your ills!  Bonus…they are an incredible source of lecithin, which raises the level of acetylcholine in the brain.  Acetylcholine is a nutrient that helps maintain brain function and, recent studies show that may be very beneficial to patients suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Finally, we have the root.  I’ll be the first to admit this part doesn’t taste so good. Imagine, if you will, bitter dirt.  Yeah, it’s kinda like that.  But, the benefits are so great that that doesn’t seem to matter so much in light of the fact that dandelion root is one of the greatest liver cleansers ever.  It also helps relieve inflammation of the eliminative organs, helps promote bile and improves circulation.  It contains calcium and silicon, which aid the development and repair of bones, hair and teeth. It boosts the metabolism and helps calm the craving for sweets.  What more could you want?

Freshly picked dandelion root

Freshly picked dandelion root

Dandelion has been used to treat cancer, rheumatism, liver and kidney disorders, bed wetting, constipation, skin diseases, scurvy, blood diseases, and even diabetes. It contains 28 parts sodium and helps to neutralize acids in, and purify, the blood. It is a mild, effective laxative.  Lets not forget their anti-oxidant properties, too!

All this being said, don’t you feel a little silly for going to such great lengths to eradicate it from your yard?  My suggestion is to set down the herbicide and take a minute to appreciate the beauty and benefits of this delightful little weed. Gather a few flowers while they are bright yellow and fully opened.  Pick a few leaves for dinner, then let yourself regress back to your childhood long enough to pick a fuzzy flower, wish with all your might and scatter the seeds into the wind…

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