Dandelion: a widely distributed weed of the daisy family, with large bright yellow flowers followed by globular heads of seeds with downy tufts [Taraxacum officinale and related species.]
Origin ME from Fr. Dent-de-lion ‘lion’s tooth’ (because of the jagged shape of the leaves.)
– Concise Oxford English Dictionary
What a cool name eh? If my name meant lion’s tooth I’d be a happy bunny. Cheerful, full of the joys of spring and yet considered a nuisance when it pops up in your immaculate lawn, the dandelion has secured an unfair reputation as a ‘common’ garden weed. Nicknamed Pis-en-lit (wet the bed) by the French due to their supposed diuretic qualities (they increase the amount of urine the body creates), the common dandelion has been consumed for food and medicinal purposes for a very long time indeed. Rich in Vitamins A, B, C and D, as well as Iron, Potassium and Zinc, all of the plant can be safely consumed, including the roots, which can be roasted and ground up into a powder to use as a caffeine-free coffee substitute. The leaves can be eaten in salads, though some people complain that they’re too bitter, so it’s best to go for the younger ones, and the flowers themselves can be cooked, eaten raw, or made into dandelion wine (though you’ll need to collect a lot for this). I’ll be experimenting with different ways to eat and cook these plants over the next few days, as my overgrown lawn is currently full of them, but until then, here’s some info about their supposed medicinal qualities.
Due to their diuretic nature (as a child I thought you’d piss yourself if you even picked one) dandelions have often been used to aid kidney and liver problems. They’re also said to possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities and they were widely used in Native American, Chinese and European medicine for many centuries. Beware though if you’re taking medications, their diuretic nature may speed up the passage of medication through your body, meaning you won’t get the chance to absorb it properly.
And of course, the seed heads of dandelions can be used as accurate clocks. Obvs.
Check back in the next few days for my first vlog, some dandelion cooking advice, and to see whether they actually taste nice or not.
Hopefully I won’t pee myself on camera…