Name: Taraxacum officinale
Common Name: Dandelion
The 'weed' that we know as the Dandelion can be found worldwide and is recognisable to most, young and old - It is also one of the greatest healing herbs nature has bestowed on us and has been used since prehistoric times to prevent and treat numerous complaints.
The name dandelion originated from the French word dent de lion, which means 'lions tooth' and refers to the leaves of the plant. The dandelion has many names throughout the world, it is known in France as pissenlit, referring to the diuretic effect of the plant root.
Dandelions also offer much needed nectar and pollen early in the year for bees - Did you ever pick dandelions and have sticky pollen dyed hands afterwards?
All parts of the dandelion are edible. The leaves contain an abundance of vitamins and minerals, namely vitamin A, C and K. It is rich in fibre, potassium, iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium and phosphorous. They contain more iron and calcium than spinach. Simply enjoy the leaves in salads or you could slightly blanch or sauté them if you find them too bitter.
The roots of the taraxacum contain high iron and liver strengthening compounds and are prized word wide for their blood cleansing and liver tonic properties; Indeed, they are classed as a registered drug in Canada. The roots are also often used for their bitter qualities and can be dried and ground to make caffeine free coffee.
The petals can be used to make a delicious sweet syrup, similar to honey with a natural hint of vanilla; Wine and cordials.
Taraxacum has been used for food and medicinal purposes for thousands of years. It has numerous active compounds and medicinal qualities and has been used to treat many conditions from digestive problems to PMS, from anemia to high blood pressure...and the list goes on.
The dandelion is a great healing plant, especially beneficial at this time of the year when you might be feeling a little sluggish and feel the need for a spring cleanse.
You can simply add the leaves to salads, put them on pizza's, in soups, in sauces, in omelette's, the possibilities are endless! An easy way to use the fresh roots, is to steep them in vinegar.
Avail of the benefits that this herb has to offer - You will feel brighter and lighter and maybe even that little bit more in tune with nature.