Avid yard enthusiasts despise this golden flowered plant. Children are fascinated with blowing the white winged seeds off of the stem. Chemical companies have made billions providing agents that will kill them. In spite of gardeners and chemical companies the Dandelion thrives. The extremely long tap root is almost impossible to dig completely up. If a tiny bit survives the attempt to dig it up, the plant will re-grow.
The tenacity of the Dandelion is good for foragers. The young leaves are tender and not bitter. If you pick the leaves new growth occurs providing you with tasty salads, greens and additions to soups or stews. Dandelions produce a milky sap that as they age becomes very bitter. Leaching, the process of bringing a substance to a boil in water, throwing the water out and boiling again, will make older leaves more palatable.
The roots once roasted can be added to Chicory roots which have been roasted to produce a drink that is something like coffee. The root is edible but is bitter even with leaching however all Dandelion parts are high in sodium, potassium, iron, B vitamins and protein. Adding root slices to a highly seasoned stew prevents their bitter flavor from being overwhelming while providing good nutrition.
The root will also produce dye. Gathered in the spring the dye is a weak light green but gathered in the fall the color of dye is a muted magenta. Remember to peel the root before boiling it for dye. The peel produces a different color dye and will muddy the color of the inner root.
Dandelion flower petals can be used to make wine with. Unlike fruit wines this wine requires its sitting period to become palatable. While it is alcoholic it has a putrid odor and a similar taste until its been allowed to settle for about a year. The sitting period produces a wine that is pungent and heavy.
Flower petals can also be dried and added to primitive grains to improve their color. Almost all grains made from wild seeds and or nuts have a gray cast. People don’t seem to be excited to eat food that is dull and gray. Adding color to these grains provides a healthy good looking primitive food.
Flower petals can also be used to make beads with. Pluck the petals from the flower, mash them and roll them into balls, ovals or what ever shape you like. Push a needle or thorn through them while they are still wet and allow to air dry. You can also mix other flower petals with them for a multi-colored bead. Some flowers retain their scent such as lilac and lavender. Mixed with Dandelion the bead is multi-colored and fragrant.
Dandelion sap will help warts dissolve. Pick a thick flower stem and allow the milky sap to drop onto the wart. Allow to dry and repeat daily as needed to remove the wart. Warts are caused by viruses that need air to survive. The milky sap coats the wart preventing the virus from obtaining oxygen.
The benefits of Dandelion in replacement electrolyte teas is extremely beneficial. Using Dandelion as a base and adding other medicinal plants that reduce diarrhea, vomiting and or fevers are useful in the treatment of stomach viruses. Strong tea made from the leaves can be used as a gentle laxative.
Ground and dried Dandelion will help activate and keep a compost pile healthy and working. Dandelions are actually processed and sold in compost activators available at most garden centers.
This Dandelion, growing along the much traveled gravel road is at a younger stage of development than those in the open field. The scat, (circled) is from a raccoon whose been eating very well. Now I know what’s been upsetting my perimeter pups at night.