Dandelion Plant Information – The Incredible Edible
This post gives you dandelion plant information to include its edibility, medicinal properties, how to propagate it, and a dandelion recipe.
Dandelion (Taraxacum) is a wildflower found around the world that is a wonderful benefit to the landscape and permaculture garden. It attracts beneficial insects, provides nectar for bees in the early spring, is an edible, and has herbal and medicinal qualities.
They are native to Eurasia and North America, and two species, T. officinale and T. erythrospermum, are found as commonplace wild flowers worldwide. Both species are edible in their entirety. The stems and leaves exude a white, milky latex when broken.
They can can grow to a height of nearly 12 inches and have deeply-notched, toothy, spatula-like leaves that are shiny and hairless and ½” to 2-1/2” wide. They always grow in a basal rosette, with the grooved leaves funneling rain to the root. They have large tap roots, are herbaceous and are perennial. The dark brown roots are fleshy and brittle and are filled with a white milky substance that is bitter and slightly smelly.
They have many flowers collected together into what is called a flower head. Each single flower in a head is called a floret. The flower heads are yellow to orange colored, and are open in the daytime, but closed at night. The flower heads are borne singly on a hollow stem (scape) that is usually leafless. The flower heads mature into spherical seed heads called blowballs (or clock) containing many single-seeded fruits called achenes (a type of simple dry fruit containing one seed).
Dandelion is used to add flavor to salads, sandwiches, and teas. The leaves are tastiest in early spring, before the flowers appear and after a frost, as their protective bitterness disappears.
To make leaves more palatable, they are often blanched to remove bitterness. The flower petals, along with other ingredients, usually including citrus, 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.
Other beneficial properties
Other beneficial properties include providing an important source of nectar and pollen early in the season for bees, acts as a dynamic accumulator, is used as food source for some species of butterfly and moth, and releases ethylene gas which helps fruit to ripen.
Dandelions contain vitamins A, B, C, and D, as well as minerals, such as iron, potassium, and zinc. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center: “In the past, dandelion roots and leaves were used to treat liver problems. Native Americans also boiled dandelion in water and took it to treat kidney disease, swelling, skin problems, heartburn, and upset stomach. In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), dandelion has been used to treat stomach problems, appendicitis, and breast problems, such as inflammation or lack of milk flow. In Europe, dandelion was used in remedies for fever, boils, eye problems, diabetes, and diarrhea.
So far, there have not been any quality scientific studies on dandelion. Today, the roots are mainly used to stimulate the appetite, and for liver and gallbladder problems. Dandelion leaves are used as a diuretic to help the body get rid of too much fluid.” *
Dandelion can be spread by seed or by root cuttings. The flowers have many seeds in their seed head. Each seed has a tiny parachute, to spread far and wide in the wind. The seeds are fertile even without cross pollination and can sprout immediately after hitting the ground (no stratification/cold time needed).
The taproot is deep, twisted, and brittle. Unless you remove it completely, it will regenerate. One taproot can be cut many times to make many plants.
Curried Greens with Golden Onions and Cashews
1 large onion, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 cup coarsely chopped salted roasted cashews (4 oz)
1 lb spinach, tough stems discarded (6 cups)
3/4 lb mustard greens, stems and center ribs discarded (5 cups)
3/4 lb dandelion greens, tough stems discarded (4 cups)
1/2 cup water
Cook onion with salt to taste in 3 tablespoons oil in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until deep golden and some wedges are crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together spices.
Add cashews to onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until nuts are 1 shade darker, about 3 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons spice mix and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove skillet from heat.
Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a 5-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook remaining spice mix, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Immediately stir in the 3 greens and water and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of liquid is evaporated and greens are tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt.
Serve greens sprinkled with onion mixture.
1-1/2 tbs. olive oil
7-1/2 cups (packed) of very young common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), wild or commercial chicory (Cichorium intybus), or wild lettuce (Lactuca species) leaves
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
3/4 cup sesame seeds
2-1/2 tsp. Bragg’s liquid amino’s or tamari soy sauce
Toast the sesame seeds in a frying pan over medium heat, stirring constantly, 2-3 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Immediately remove from pan and set aside. Gently sauté the dandelion leaves and garlic in the olive oil 15 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the Bragg’s liquid aminos and sesame seeds and serve hot.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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