Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Learn An Herb: Dandelion

Dandelion? An herb you say? That's right. Even though mist people think of dandelions as horribly obnoxious weeds, they are also quite useful (and in fact, that is why they are here.... people brought dandelions with them to the US because they used them regularly... but their reproductive mechanism is very efficient and they have proliferated a little more than most people would like). However, that also means that you (yes, you!) have easy access to the powers of dandelions.
I personally have eaten dandelion greens only a few times, but after doing some research for this post, I think I will make them a regular part of my diet. Let's talk about the many ways in which dandelions are oh-so useful!
For one, dandelions are dynamic accumulators which means that they gather vitamins and nutrients from way deep in the soil (with that big ol' tapo root). That means they can accumulate nutrients from places that most plants can't reach, which makes them very high in vitamins and minerals (especially vitamins A and C, beta carotine, potassium, and copper). This means that you can either eat the dandelions (all parts of the plant are edible) and reap the benefits of all of those goodies, or, you can chop the dandelion off at the surface and place it back onto your yard or garden. As the dandelion decomposes, those nutrients will be released back into the soil and will become available for uptake by the plants nearby. I may or may not have taken dandelions from my neighbors yards and put them on my own garden....
Externally, dandelions can be used to fight bacteria and help heal wounds. They sap also can be used to remove corns and warts (I am so going to try this on my planter's wart! I will keep you posted) and can be used as post-bee sting pain relief.
Internally, the roots can be used as a liver detox and the plant can be used to support the kidneys, gallbladder and urinary tract. It has also been shown to help jaundice, gout, hypoglycemia, eczema, and acne (among other things). The flowers and greens of the dandelion can be eaten in salads, or stewed. A tea can be made with fresh or dried leaves, or a tincture could be made. As I mentioned, now that I know how good this things are for us, I do plan on including dandelion leaves in salads and teas throughout the summer!
A couple other random uses include placing dandelions in a bag with unripe fruit to help speed up the ripening process. Apparently a red dye can also be made from the roots. I haven't tried that yet but sounds like a good summer project!
Have you used dandelions? Eaten them? What did you think? Pin It Now!


  1. Taryn- this is all so interesting- I grew up in Toronto where we had dandelions- I don't remember even knowing about spraying weeds with chemicals until we moved to the US- so I would assume the dandelions I grew up 'having' were safe to eat- Here in the desert not only do we not really have dandelions but those I have seen are on manicured grassy areas and a quickly removed.
    I would love to make dandelion wine!

  2. Very interesting! I haven't eaten them before but I've heard of people who have fried the flower part and eaten them. I'm really not into frying food. Do you know other ways of preparing them?

  3. You can eat the leaves raw in salad or sautee them like you would spinach or another green. I think I may start blending them up into smoothies. I do that a lot with spinach and kale and my 3 year old never notices... hopefully he won't notice dandelions either! You can also make a tea with it.. just steep fresh or dried leaves in boiling water!

  4. Thanks for the post, that's great! I while ago in mine I also mentioned dandelions as part of the spring season diet. I like the flower part the best- just bite the yellow part of the flower off, it's nice and sweet. You don't have to cook it, this is one thing best enjoyed raw :)
    I also have prepared myself that starting from this summer, when I will go to my parents home in countryside every week, I will also prepare various infusions and tinctures. I should try some dandelion as well then! :)
    Oh, and I know that you can make "dandelion honey" as well!
    However, about throwing dandelions out in the compost- they are vickid weeds indeed, I'm afraid they will just start to grow there in my compost!
    Thanks for the post once more and let's enjoy some dandelions :)