Another of those hated garden weeds, the hardy little danedlion can take a hold in the most precarious of places, winding their roots deep, into chalk, around roots and solid ground – if you try to pull them up by hand, the root generally remains in the ground.
Every gardener’s worst enemy when it comes to lawns as they seem to love to grow amongst the common grass in proliferation. I am not a fan of weed killer, I would rather get down on my knees and dig them out than spray my garden with dangerous chemicals.
dan·de·li·on – [dan-dl-ahy-uhn]
1. a weedy composite plant, Taraxacum officinale, having edible, deeply toothed or notched leaves, golden-yellow flowers, and rounded clusters of white, hairy seeds.
2. any other plant of the genus Taraxacum.
Origin: 1505–15; < Middle French, alteration of dent de lion, literally, tooth of (a) lion, translation of Medieval Latin d?ns le?nis, in allusion to the toothed leaves.
See, even the dictionary says it's edible so what are you waiting for?
Next time you see a dandelion plant growing, consider letting it carry on, for a number of reasons, at least till you've used those young fresh leaves and gloriously happy petals...
a) the new green leaves are delicious in salads, as are the flowers
b) the flowers make a very tasty and nutritious tea
c) even the roots, when dried, can be made into dandelion root coffee
The latter option here fills me with dread. I always think plant roots seem very sinister and other worldy and I don't very much like touching them without gloves on. The other main problem, being a coffee lover, how will it ever compare to a mug of delicious strong black coffee? I guess the key is to see it as a totally different kind of drink... the roots might be my nemesis.
I'm starting with the easy option, the dandelion tea.
Easy peasy totally free dandelion tea
This is so simple, almost as simple as the nettle tea but slightly less dangerous.
- Pick the flower heads off and collect about 15-20 for a pot or large mug of tea – make sure you pick them from somewhere which isn’t fume covered or sprayed with weed killer or pesticides. You’ll need enough to cram into your little steeper, so that gives you an idea of the quantity required.
- Wash the flowers and leaves if you collected these at the same time.
- Snip the petals into a small bowl or saucer, you don’t get many per plant and it is a bit of a faff but worth it for the free and tasty tea you get at the end.
- Stuff the petals into a steeper, these are like a kind of mesh net that opens so you fill it and then clips shut so you can hang it in the mug.
- Pour boiling water over the petals (in the steeper) and let the water sit for about 3-5 minutes. You could also make it in a teapot and use a tea strainer.
- Drink and enjoy!
I didn’t really find enough flowers for the tea, this miserable weather is making even the dandelions hide their beautiful faces. Photo to follow very soon of how dandelion tea should look.
Dandelion leaf and flower summer salad
You can also just throw the dandelion leaves and petals onto your salad. It looks really pretty, the leaves taste good, just like any other salad leaf to me and certainly not as strong as rocket or water cress.
What’s so good about Dandelions?
It seems madness that something we spend our lives viewing as just a weed, to be stamped on, sprayed with weed killer and yanked out unceremoniously from our lawns and flower beds is actually one of those best kept hidden secrets. One of nature’s free healthy treats; dandelions are full of goodness, including:
- Vitamin A – 338% RDA
- Vitamin C – the leaves alone contain 58% of your RDA
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin K – dandelion is probably the richest source of this vitamin at 649%
- calcium – 19% RDA
- Iron – 39%
- folic acid
- Riboflavin – 20% RDA
- Vitamin E
Benefits of Dandelion tea
I found loads of websites proclaiming dandelion tea and coffee benefit eczema due to the cleansing qualities but I struggle to find scientific proof of any research to prove this.
Dandelion tea may be applied directly to patches of eczema for a relieving effect, says the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. (Ref: Livestrong)
There were also many references to dandelion tea being good for those with allergies and asthma too but I’m not sure how proven this is.
Scientific research documenting successful treatment with dandelion
This was hard to find but I did find this reference here:
The U.S. National Library of Medicine, or USNLM, says that some research shows dandelion as a powerful anti-inflammatory. Sipping the dandelion tea can help ease inflammation, or apply it to the inflamed area of the skin. (Ref: Livestrong)
Can you be allergic to Dandelion?
There is lots of evidence of people actually being allergic to dandelion although I don’t know anyone who is. Would this be linked to hay fever? Symptoms could also include dermatitis.
The Livestrong website warned that:
Drinking tea concoctions that contain dandelion root may irritate your stomach. You may experience heartburn, a burning sensation that radiates from the upper portion of your stomach into the center of your chest Drugs.com warns. Consult your physician if you experience recurrent episodes of heartburn, as this side effect may also be a sign of an alternate health condition, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease.
If the dandelion root tea comes in contact with the skin around your mouth, you may develop a mild skin rash. The skin at the corners of your mouth may appear red or inflamed. Skin rash side effects are typically temporary and subside within a few hours or days after drinking this dandelion root-infused beverage. If you develop a severe skin reaction after drinking dandelion root tea, you may be allergic to this plant.
You should avoid drinking dandelion root tea if you have an allergy to certain types of plants, such as ragweed, marigolds, daises or chrysanthemums, MedlinePlus warns. People who are hypersensitive to these plants may also be allergic to dandelion. If you are allergic to dandelion, drinking dandelion root tea may induce a severe allergic reaction. You may develop sores along the inside of your mouth. Severe breathing difficulties, such as shortness of breath, chest tightness or wheezing may also occur in dandelion-sensitive people who drink this type of tea. Be sure to talk with your doctor about the use of dandelion root tea if you have plant-specific allergies in order to avoid unpleasant medical complications.
Hay fever connection…
If you have seasonal allergies or asthma that are triggered by pollen, ragweed and daisies, dandelion root tea could cause a similar allergic reaction. (Ref: Garden Guides)
I would stress I have had no side effects that I’ve noticed but it’s worth knowing, just in case.
I have enjoyed my dandelion experiment and am now casting around for other weeds I can add to my repertoire. Happy tea drinking folks and if anyone is brave enough to try the dandelion root tea (you need to dry it for 1-2 weeks then grind up to a powder… eeek) I would love to hear what it’s like.
(runs fast away from the dandelion roots – they are like triffids)