Serve up a little poetic justice.
Sometime in late summer or early fall, gardeners find that they’re tired of battling the dandelions (Taraxacum officinale) in their lawn or gardens. Well, I say go ahead and give up. Dandelions are perennial weeds that belong to the sunflower family. So, the plant comes back year after year on the same roots. You can drive yourself crazy keeping them at bay or you can take the opposite stance and cultivate them on purpose. What you may not know about this herbaceous weed is that it’s completely edible and nutritious.
The Nutritional Dandelion
Dandelions are know to be a good source of Vitamins A and C as well calcium and potassium. Word of caution: The dandelion greens you should be tossing into your salad bowl should come from soils and lawns that are free of chemical pesticides or herbicides.
This is something to think about before you get happy and start harvesting them from your lawn. If your lawn care system is an organic one, go ahead and gather dandelion leaves. If not, you can always pick some up at your local Farmer’s Market.
It’s best to collect the leaves while they’re young – preferably before a flower has even opened. The mature leaves can be super bitter, yet many people enjoy their pungent flavor. This plant that’s so often considered a weed is beneficial to the digestive system and has antiviral as well as other medicinal properties.
One of the favorite ways people ingest dandelion leaves is by infusing them to make dandelion tea. Dandelion tea is touted to help keep the kidneys, gall bladder, and the liver functioning well. It’s said to cleanse the blood and skin, restore good health to the digestive tract, and help control diabetes.
Grow Your Own Dandelions
By the way, there are domesticated dandelion varieties that are grown for sole culinary intention – good to know. Their flavor is milder than that of their wild cousins, which sounds to me like a good thing. Most gardeners who grow domesticated dandelions treat them as annuals and pull them up at the end of the season before they can go to seed.
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds has some domestic Italian dandelion varieties, as does CherryGal.
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