Thursday, February 25, 2016

Wild Edible/ Medicinal: Dandelion (a.k.a. Taraxacum)

Taraxacum is a large genus of flowering plants and commonly referred to as dandelion. Each single flower in a head is called a floret. Many Taraxacum species produce seeds asexually by apomixis, where the seeds are produced without pollination, resulting in offspring that are genetically identical to the parent plant.

Get Your Dandelion Products Here

Read these other articles on Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants:  Queen Ann's Lace (LINK);  How to determine if a Plant is Edible (LINK), How to Make Pine Needle Tea (LINK); Winter Wild Edible Collection (LINK); Seven Eastern Woodland Trees Essential to Survival (LINK); Red Clover (LINK); List of Common Ailments w/ Cooresponding Wild Medicinal (LINK); Wild Edibles- Leeks a.k.a. Ramps (LINK); Wild Medicinal Squaw Root- The Key to Women's Wilderness Health (LINK)

Identification/ Description
The leaves are 2”–12” long, simple forming a rosette above the central taproot. The flower heads are yellow to orange colored, and are open in the daytime but closed at night. The heads are borne singly on a hollow stem (scape) that rises .0.5”–5” above the leaves and releases a milky latex when broken. A rosette may produce several flowering stems at a time. The flower heads are .75”–2” in diameter. The flower heads mature into spherical seed heads called clocks containing many single-seeded fruits called achenes. Each achene is attached to a pappus of fine hairs, which enable wind-aided dispersal over long distances (thus why this plant is so invasive).

Read these other articles on Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants:  Queen Ann's Lace (LINK);  How to determine if a Plant is Edible (LINK), How to Make Pine Needle Tea (LINK); Winter Wild Edible Collection (LINK); Seven Eastern Woodland Trees Essential to Survival (LINK); Red Clover (LINK); List of Common Ailments w/ Cooresponding Wild Medicinal (LINK); Wild Edibles- Leeks a.k.a. Ramps (LINK); Wild Medicinal Squaw Root- The Key to Women's Wilderness Health (LINK)Plantain (LINK);

Found in temperate areas across the globe (i.e. anywhere outside of the permafrost zone, every continent other than Antarctica)

 ***Be sure to check out the video above featuring dandelion root in a wild edible stew)*** Dandelions are found on each continent (with the exception of Antarctica) and have been gathered for food since the beginning of recorded history. A perennial plant, its leaves will grow back if the taproot is left intact. To make leaves more palatable, they are often blanched to remove bitterness or sauteed in the same way as spinach. Dandelion leaves and buds have been a part of traditional Sephardic, Chinese, and Korean cuisine. The flower petals, along with other ingredients, usually including citrus, are used to make dandelion wine. The ground, roasted roots can be used as a caffeine-free dandelion coffee. Dandelion was also traditionally used to make the traditional British soft drink dandelion and burdock, and is one of the ingredients of root beer. Dandelion leaves contain abundant vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, C and K, and are good sources of calcium, potassium, iron and manganese. ***Be sure to watch the second part of the earlier video by clicking the picture below***

Medicinal Uses: 
The fresh juice of Dandelion is applied externally to fight bacteria and help heal wounds. The plant has an antibacterial action, inhibiting the growth of Staphococcus aureus, pneumococci, meningococci, Bacillus dysenteriae, B. typhi, C. diphtheriae, proteus. The latex contained in the plant sap can be used to remove corns and warts (beware using this plant if you have severe latex allergies). Dandelion is also used for the treatment of the gall bladder, kidney and urinary disorders, gallstones, jaundice, cirrhosis, hypoglycemia, dyspepsia with constipation, edema associated with high blood pressure and heart weakness, chronic joint and skin complaints, gout, eczema and acne. As a tonic, Dandelion strengthens the kidneys. An infusion of the root encourages the steady elimination of toxins from the body. Dandelion is a powerful diuretic but does not deplete the body of potassium. Dandelion is traditionally used as a tonic and blood purifier, for constipation, inflammatory skin conditions, joint pain, eczema and liver dysfunction, including liver conditions such as hepatitis and jaundice.

Cultural Importance
Four dandelion flowers are the emblem of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia (LET’S GO MOUNTAINEERS!). The citizens celebrate spring with an annual Dandelion Festival .

Dandelion Recipes:  
1) Dandelion Salad:
½ head of leaf lettuce, tear
½ head romaine lettuce, tear
½ cup dandelion leaves, tear
¼ cup dandelion stems, chop a few fresh mint leaves
½ cup apple, grated (optional)
Bragg Healthy Organic Vinaigrette or Ginger & Sesame Dressing Toss all torn leaves, dandelion stems, mint and grated apple together with Bragg Vinaigrette or Ginger Dressing.
Serves 4.

2) Dandelion Pasta:
• 2 – 3 cups uncooked pasta shells (depending on how much pasta people eat), cooked and drained
• 1 medium onion
• 2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
• 1 tbsp. Olive oil
• 1 – 2 cups fresh dandelion leaves, washed and chopped
Directions: Saut̩ garlic and onion in olive oil. Add dandelion leaves. Cook 1 Р2 minutes. Combine garlic and onion with pasta shells and dandelion leaves. Crumble feta cheese throughout. Voila - ready to eat!

3) Dandelion Pizza:
• 1 pizza crust
• Tomato sauce or pesto
• Cheese (cheddar, mozzarella or a blend)
• Fresh or steamed dandelion greens
• Fresh dandelion blossoms
• Onion
• Garlic
Directions: Spread tomato sauce or pesto onto pizza crust. Sprinkle cheese on top. Saut̩ onion, garlic, dandelion blossoms. and dandelion greens in skillet 2 Р3 minutes or until onions are translucent. Sprinkle on toppings. You can sprinkle on additional toppings like pine nuts or edible wild mushrooms! Bake pizza in oven 8 Р10 minutes. Dandelion will be the hit of the party with its unique flavor!

4) Dandelion Salve:
16 oz of infused dandelion oil
2 oz coconut oil
2 oz of beeswax
10-15 drops of lavender essential oil

5) Dandelion Decoction:
Use 1 to 3 teaspoons of chopped dandelion root per cup of water, adjusting for taste. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer in covered saucepan for 10 to 20 minutes. Drink 1 to 2 cups daily as a general tonic.

6) Dandelion Infusion:
Gather 10-20 dandelion flowers
Cut off the green bits and put the petals into a jar (I used a jar that holds 1 cup for ease).
Pour boiling water over the petals, filling the jar
Put a lid on the jar and let it sit for at least an hour. I let mine rest overnight.

7) Dandelion Syrup:
Strain the liquid into a pot. Add double the measure of sugar to the liquid in a pot. (ex.: 1 cup liquid, 2 cups sugar)
Bring to boil, stirring occasionally
Turn to a low simmer until the liquid is reduced a bit and starting to thicken.
Remove from heat, allow to cool, pour into glass bottle
Label and store in fridge.

8) Check Out This Recipe for Dandelion Wine: LINK

Dandelion is one of the most plentiful plants that you can find on the planet and many look at it as just an invasive weed that needs to be removed from your yard. The plant is a valuable resource for both medicine making, food and even back yard hooch (i.e. wine). This little plant is easy to identify without any notable lookalikes (when flowering) and is available from early spring (one of the first plants to come out) through late fall. This plant can give us anything from wine to salad to flour to medicine and is easily one of the top wild plants to adopt into your medicinal and edible plant game plan.

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