Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Perennial with yellow flowers and powder-puff seed heads. Lettuce-like foliage, deep taproot. All parts of the plant are edible and health giving. Flowers can be used in cookies and wine, young foliage in salads, the root in tea. The aggressive root system brings minerals from the subsoil up to the surface. Aeration and proper use of organic fertilizers will greatly reduce the population. Kill, if necessary by spraying with a fatty-acid weed killer, full strength vinegar, or removing manually. It is hard to control with the organic pre-emergent corn gluten meal because it tends to germinate over a long period of time starting in very early fall or late summer with any cool spells.
- Dandelion is native to Europe but found throughout temperate regions in the Northern Hemisphere. The leaves, flowers, and root of the plant have traditionally been used in Mexican and other North American medicine.
- Today, dandelion is promoted as a “tonic,” as a diuretic, and for a variety of conditions, including infections and digestive symptoms. As a food, dandelion is used as a salad green and in soups, wine, and teas. The roasted root is used as a coffee substitute.
That said, we actually know "very little about dandelion's health effects. There's little scientific evidence" about this herb, but the amounts found in common foods are considered safe (such as leaves in your salad, tisanes, etc.)
For more information:
- A blog entry by Joshua Weisel with several literary and contextual accounts of dandelions
- University of Maine fact sheet
- USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service - Taraxacom officinale
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