Dandelion

Introducing Miss Dandelion

Now that we have established that Miss Lavender and Miss Rosemary are sisters to Lamiaceae family, we look back to realise that Miss Chamomile had another true sister, who is well known around the world, but I am so upset to say that she is just not fairly treated, and some would say that she is the black sheep of the family, and just a ‘weeeed’, and that is just not true. Miss Dandelion is a real gal, no wimp and very adaptable to wherever she is found, therefore I’ll stand by her anytime because she has so much more to offer than we think.

Miss Dandelion, which grows to 15cm to 25cm (6″ – 10″) and is native to the regions of Europe and Asia, but due to the travels of man, she has spread along with him, and although she is sadly perceived as a ‘weed’ (nasty people), she is truly a gift. Oh by the way, we must not forget that she has versions in Russia – Taraxacum kok-saghyz Rodin, which grow to 30cm – 12″, which was harvested during WW2 for latex and a Chinese dandelion – Taraxacum mongolicum, which grows to 25cm – 30cm (10″ – 12″).

The Russians called Miss Dandelion, the “elixer of life” and was considered to be a “life infusion”. It was greatly used by the Russian aristocracy and was the favourite remedy of Russia’s most famous Herbalist and Russian Orthodox priest, – Panteleimon the Healer.

The Dandelion is sometimes called ‘Lion’s tooth’, and where did this name come from? When the French saw this plant they looked at the leaves and noted that the leaves look a lot like a set of lion’s teeth, therefore they called it ‘dent de lion, meaning lion’s tooth. Mr Culpeper notes the other rather frank and vulgar French term given to it as, ‘Piss-a-beds’, and although somewhat coarse, this term comes from it being an excellent diuretic. Mr John Gerard noted that her flower was “double, & thicke set together, of colour yellow, and sweet in smell … but bitterer in taste than Succorie.”

Dandelion, which comes by many other names such as Puff Ball, Royal Herb, Old man’s clock, wetweed, swinsnout, wild endive and Prince in Paupers Clothing, and many more, has the botanical name of Taraxacum officinale, which can be found either as T. officinale folia, which is dandelion leaf or T. officinale radix, which is dandelion root, two parts of the same plant that have many benefits. The flower is sometimes used but much less. There is a ‘Red-seeded’ dandelion – T. erythrospermum.

The Weed File – Detective work

She has a copy cat, who is called by the name of Cat’s ears, Hypochoeris glabra and H. radicata and another couple of imposter’s called Hawkbit, Leontodon saxatilis, and Hawksbeard, Crepis capillaris and to be fair, they are not really fakes because they are what they are, its just that they look very similar, but don’t have the same gifts. Who knows what true benefits they may have, and no-one has discovered them.

Dandelion

She has flower stems that do not branch with a single large flower up to 3.5cm – 5cm or 1 3/8″ – 2″ diameter flower. These stems as well as the leaf stalks are ‘hollow’ that once they are cut, produce milky sap and her leaves are ‘hairless’ with a point at the tip and the lobes are backward pointing – runcinate. This ‘hollowness’ is not found in the others, so this is important.

Cat’s ear

This girl has sparingly branched flower stems, that only have one flower each. Her leaves are ‘hairy’ in a ‘bristlely’ way and due to the ends of the leaves looking somewhat like cat’s ears, that is where she got her name of course.

Hawkbit

She has unbranched flower stems like Miss Dandelion with a single flower, but her stems are solid and not hollow. Her leaves are hairy and there is a ‘forking’ in the hairs making a ‘T-shape at the tip.

Hawksbeard

She has very branched flower stems that have lots of leaves on them, that produce many smaller sized flowers. She is the only one who is a ‘annual’ as the others are perennials.

A few things to note: If you are getting any of these plants growing in your garden, yard or paddock, it means that the soil is becoming compacted, so aeration and loosening up of the soil will ‘naturally reduce’ them, therefore there is no need to use chemicals and saves money. Also, it is said that ‘True Dandelion’ is healthy for horses, but the others are not and are said to cause ‘string holt’.

How to use Dandelion

Dandelion has many uses, but not quite like her sister Miss Chamomile, as principally its the chamomile flower that is used, and it is lovely don’t you think, but with Miss Dandelion we can use the whole plant, specifically the leaves and the roots. Apart from the medicinal uses of Dandelion, it has many culinary uses – for example, salads, vinegars, syrup, in soups (leaves) or on soups (petals), mustards, in and on breads, muffins, pizza and fritters and various herbal teas, gardening, in shampoos and even for dying.

Herbal teas

Dandelion tea comes generally in two forms, either from the leaf or the roots, both can be delicious and have therapeutic affects. Usually the roots are roasted but the leaves can be fresh, dried or fermented.

Dandelion ‘leaf’ tea

This can be made out of fresh, dried or fermented dandelion leaf

  • Put 2-3 teaspoons of dried leaves or 5 – 6 freshly chopped leaves per cup,
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Steep for 5 – 15 minutes (Longer is stronger)
  • Add a sweetener if desire such as raw honey, stevia or erythritol
  • Enjoy

Dandelion and Liquorice Root tea

1) Infusion

  • Put in 1-2 teaspoons of dandelion root tea per cup
  • Add 1-2 teaspoons of liquorice root per cup
  • Pour in boiling hot water
  • Steep for 5 – 15 minutes (Longer is stronger)
  • You can strain out the dandelion and liquorice root or leave it in there
  • Add a sweetener if desired, such as raw honey, stevia or erythritol
  • Enjoy

2) Decoction

  • Put 2-3 teaspoons per cup into a saucepan
  • Add 1-2 teaspoon of liquorice root per cup
  • Pour in the water – 250mls per cup
  • Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes (Longer is stronger)
  • You can strain out the dandelion root or leave it in there
  • Add a sweetener if desire such as raw honey, stevia or erythritol
  • Enjoy

How to make Roasted Dandelion Root Tea

If you are trying to make your own dandelion root tea, so you can have a caffeine free beverage, it is best to use roots from the third year, but they can be used younger, if you can’t wait, say, about a year or two.

  • Simply dig them out
  • Wash them clean
  • Chop the roots up into small bits, 6mm / 1/4″
  • Dry them out for 4 – 14 days (until hard and brittle)
  • Place them into a tray suitable for roasting
  • Spread them out evenly over the tray
  • Slowly roast them in an oven at 94C / 200F until brown similar to coffee
  • Seal in an air-tight jar with a label
  • Grind the roots as you need them

Bacon and Dandelion salad

Ingredients

  • 250 grams of fresh young dandelion leaves
  • 110g of diced bacon or bacon bits
  • Packet of croutons
  • 5 tablespoons of your preferred vinaigrette
  • 2 teaspoons of finely chopped garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Optionally, you can add finely chopped parsley, or red onion, and cottage cheese, or use lemon juice instead of vinaigrette

How to make

  • Wash and lightly chop up the leaves and throw them into a bowl
  • Fry up the bacon, garlic and croutons in ghee or similar until lightly browned
  • Place the fried bacon, garlic and croutons into the bowl with the leaves
  • Toss until mixed
  • Pour the vinaigrette over the contents
  • And toss again and serve fresh

Also, have you tried dandelion flowers dipped in batter and fried?

And what about juicing the leaves in a vegetable juice, instead of kale or spinach?

Dying Colours with Dandelion

The leaves of the dandelion can be used for dying a pink/magenta colour and the roots are supposed to dye a yellow brown colour.

Gardening

Whilst most are fiendishly out to poison her, and therefore, poisoning themselves and their animals, she really has gardening uses such as feeding yourself and the family nutritiously, and therefore one of the best places to keep her is in a deep pot, because she is such a strong minded girl and likes to travel, and she can get a bit determined when set free.

The Easiest

The simplest gardening tactic is just to throw some seed into a ‘tall’ container of potting mix with some water and let her grow and enjoy her flowers. Also, keeping her in a pot means she can be kept close to the kitchen door or on the balcony, for example, for easy collecting.

Gardening for Pets

If you can legally keep rabbits where you are, so please check with your local authorities as you can get into a lot of trouble; you can grow dandelions to grow your own food for them. Plus, this can be fed to Guinea pigs (oh so cute) and gerbils, really anything that likes leafy greens.

Fertiliser – a natural source copper

  • Dig out 3 large dandelion plants, roots, flowers, leaves and all
  • Roughly chop them up and put them into a bucket
  • Just cover over enough with boiling hot water, approximately one litre
  • Cover the bucket and allow to steep for 1/2 an hour
  • Strain and when cool use immediately, as it doesn’t keep

Dandelion leaves can be used as a compost activator to.

They normally don’t make good flower arrangments, but if you try, put them into water straight away. Or you could just pick a couple and hand them to your girlfriend or put them behind her ear and dazzle her with all your knowledge about this flower.

How to grow Dandelion

If you are growing for salad greens it is better to refresh your plant each year to prevent the leaves from getting bitter, plus, to encourage more nutrition and faster and bigger leaves, constantly cut off the flower stems, as this directs the energy into the leaves instead of the flowers. Also, the French dandelion, a cultivar, has the biggest leaves, if you are very keen to eat lots of leafy greens.

From seed

  • Due to dandelion having such a long tap root, plant the seed in tall pots such as those used for tree seedlings, don’t use flat seedling trays.
  • Dandelion likes reasonably nitrogen-rich soils
  • Dandelions can grow just about anywhere, except for in snow and ice, and maybe the ocean?, but they do come to life after a snowy winter. (I have seen thousands of them coming up just after winter near Moscow, just wonderful)
  • Just simply prepare your tall container
  • Sprinkle some seeds over the top
  • Rub them in
  • Water them in
  • And wait

From root

Dandelion can be progagated from the root, so unless you have a severely damaged root, you should be able to replant from a piece of the root system, this is similar to growing comfrey.

Maintenance

Dandelion is typically not affected by pests and diseases, but if there is nothing much else around for the bugs to eat, it can get severely attacked.

Collecting

There are three different possible stages to collect from the dandelion, if you are harvesting the ‘whole plant’ collect it before it flowers. If you are after the leaves for salads or juicing for example, then pick the leaves when it is flowering and three, the best time to collect the roots is late autumn when you see the above ground part of the plant dying down.

Drying

When drying for storage, make sure that they have been thoroughly washed and cleaned and properly dried out 4 – 14 days, that is, becoming brittle, if you are going to store the roots. Depending on you climate, this may take from a few days to two weeks. If you have fat roots, then cut them up into thinner pieces, as this guarantees more even drying. If dried thoroughly they should last a year or two. Throw out if you see mould. If you wish to make a coffee substitute, then follow the instructions mentioned above for making Roasted Dandelion Root Tea.


Herbalism.

The information below is for informational and education purposes only. So please do not “self-treat”. When seeking any ‘therapeutic’ advice always see a Health Care Professional first.

Parts used:

Leaves, roots and flowers

Dosage:

Leaf: Minimum to maximum of dried leaf is 12.0 – 30.0g per day

Root: Minimum to maximum of dried leaf is 9.0 – 15.0g per day

Main actions:

Bitter tonic, choleretic, mild laxative, anti-rheumatic (root), cholagogue, and mild diuretic

Indications:

Leaf: Oedema, hypertension, digestive liver insufficiency, dyspepsia, constipation, gallstones, cholecystitis, plus, Gout, and hot flashes

Root: Digestive liver insufficiency, dyspepsia, flatulent colic, anorexia, constipation, gallstones, cholecystitis, gall bladder dysfunction, plus, Rheumatism, chronic skin disorders, and hot flashes

Constituents:

Leaf: Sesquiterpene lactones, carotenoids, triterpenes, coumarins. potassium (4%) silicon

Root: Sesquiterpene lactones, carotenoids, triterpenes, taraxacoside,  phenolic acids, inulin, potassium (2%)

Safety Concerns:

No major problems found from normal use, if taking therapeutically, use under a qualified heath care professional if you have gallstones or inflammation of the gallbladder.

Adulterants:

The leaf is rarely adulterated , sometimes with Leontodon autumnalis and the root has been adulterated with Cichorium intybus



Please remember, this blog cannot and should not replace a health care professional, and is for informational and educational purposes only and is not for medical advice or treatment, and no cure is implied in anyway. If you have a known serious condition, or are pregnant, please consult your health care professional, before use.

Kind Regards,

Russell a.k.a Herbal Panda

Website: http://www.theherbarius.com.au

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Email: theherbalist@theherbarius.com.au

Sales: sales@theherbarius.com.au

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“Are you eccentric enough to make the World turn differently?” – Herbal Panda

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