In Chippewa, dado’cabodji’bik meaning dadocabo (liquid or milk) odjibik (root), common dandelion is a popular edible and medicinal herb. Dandelion is easily identifiable and is often the gateway plant to exploring foraging and herbal medicine.

Dandelion’s folk names include but are not limited to blowball, lion’s tooth (leaf appearance), priest’s crown, milk witch, and wild endive. Medicinal folk names include piss-a-bed (diuretic effect) and canker-wort. Among many folk magic uses an infusion of dandelion is said to promote psychic powers.

Edible Uses of Common Dandelion

Common Dandelion - Taraxacum Officinale
Common Dandelion – Taraxacum Officinale

The most obvious way to eat dandelion is as a nutritious leafy green addition to a raw salad. You’ve probably had it in salad mixes from the grocery store. The leaves are the least bitter before the plant is flowering.

My favorite way to eat dandelions is to batter them in pancake mix and fry them up. That potent taste you might remember from childhood (um, anyone pop one in their mouth as a kid, or is it just me?) is moderated a lot by cooking the flowers.

Here’s a list of edible ideas:

  • Dandelion wine (flowers)
  • Dandelion jelly (flowers)
  • Salad greens
  • Fritters (battered flowers)
  • Used like carrots in stews et al or for pickling (tender roots)
  • Coffee substitute that tastes nothing like coffee (dried, powdered roots, harvested late fall; oft combined with roasted acorn and roasted rye in equal pts)
  • Tea (combines well with chicory or burdock root)

Rich in Vitamins A, B, C, Riboflavin

Medicinal Uses of Common Dandelion

Dandelion is primarily said to support these body systems:

  • Cardiovascular
  • Digestive
  • Integumentary
  • Urinary

Medicinal tags include Alterative, Bitters, Circulatory, Cool and Moist, Digestive, Diuretic, Laxative, Lithotriptic, Lymphatic, and Urinary. See Medicinal tag key for more information.

Common usage includes the rhizome and roots as a bitter tonic and mild laxative. I often use the roots for tea or add a tincture of dandelion root to my coffee to support my liver. You could put some on your breakfast, try a little bit ah Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya.

Alternative Uses of the “Milk Witch”

It’s a helpful addition to compost. Here’s an article on using herbs incl. dandelion in compost @http://www.pennywoodward.com.au/compost-with-a-dash-of-herbs/.

The flower can be used to produce a yellow dye and the roots make a magenta dye.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails on Dandelions

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails on Dandelions

Growing

In the off chance your yard isn’t already filled with them – they’re easy to grow! The seeds can be sown directly in the fall for early-spring greens, but you could instead mimic the necessary overwintering by winter sowing.

While they’ll grow in poor soil, moist and rich alkaline soil is favored, and with full sun. They also do well in raised beds.

Individual plants can live up to an estimated 13 years!

Warnings

It’s a diuretic.

Some people are allergic to the milky latex of dandelion.

And the Usual Cautions:

1) Most medicinal herbs, if edible, are meant to be eaten in moderation, even sparingly. Some require extra preparation.

2) People can be allergic or sensitive to nearly any plant; try new herbs one at a time at your own risk.

3) For medicinal use, I must recommend receiving a diagnosis and working with a reputed health care provider. I generally do not post specific treatments and dosages because I think that is best between you and your health care provider, and ideally monitored. Herbalists do not have an official certification yet, but that may be in the works.

4) Anyone pregnant, nursing, or taking prescription drugs should talk to a health care professional before adding new food items to their diet.

5) Many plants have look-a-likes, and sometimes they are poisonous.

REFERENCES

wiki/Taraxacum_officinale

Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs (Llewellyn’s Sourcebook Series) (Cunningham’s Encyclopedia Series)

Native Plants, Native Healing: Traditional Muskagee Way

The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine

How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts (Native American)

Edible and Medicinal Plants of Canada

Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide: 33 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use

Indian Herbalogy of North America: The Definitive Guide to Native Medicinal Plants and Their Uses

Forest Plants of Central Ontario

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