Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dandelion Friend or Foe

Dandelions get a bad rap from gardeners and lawn freaks. Many do not know (most survival minded do) that Dandelions are food and medicine in one. Most of the info here is from http://www.wildmanstevebrill.com/Plants.Folder/Dandelion.html

This post is about growing them intentionally for food and medicine use. Yeah I know some of you are cringing and hoping you are not the neighbor of that person. These little "weeds" are a great source of vitamins such as B-1, B-1, B-2, B-5, B-6, B-12, C, E, P, and D, biotin, inositol, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and zinc. The root contains the sugar inulin (see below), plus many medicinal substances.

It’s supposed to strengthen the entire body, especially the liver and gallbladder, where it promotes the flow of bile, reduces inflammation of the bile duct, and helps get rid of gall stones. This is due to its taraxacin. It’s good for chronic hepatitis, it reduces liver swelling and jaundice, and it helps indigestion caused by insufficient bile. Don't use it with irritable stomach or bowel, or if you have an acute inflammation.

Dandelion root’s inulin is a sugar that doesn't elicit the rapid production of insulin, as refined sugars do. It helps mature-onset diabetes, and I used it as part of a holistic regime for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). The taproot is edible all year, but is best from late fall to early spring.

You can also eat dandelion flowers, or use them to make wine. Collect them in a sunny meadow, just before mid-spring, when the most flowers bloom. Some continue to flower right into the fall. Use only the flower’s yellow parts. The green sepals at the flower’s base are bitter.

Collect dandelion leaves in early spring, when they're the tastiest, before the flowers appear. Harvest again in late fall. After a frost, their protective bitterness disappears. Dandelions growing in rich, moist soil, with the broadest leaves and largest roots, are the best. Select the youngest individuals, and avoid all plants with flowers.

I myself saw first hand people who loved these plants. While stationed in Alaska shortly after the huge influx of Vietnam refugees my new neighbors being from Vietnam asked me if they could pick my dandelions and of course being uninformed I said yes. They would pick the leaves while they were still very young and curly like a wild fern plant. I know better now why they picked them.

The article also says that there are no poisonous plants that look like the dandelion. Chicory and Wild lettuce are similar.

Now everyone knows how fast these things grow and how tough they are. So what could be better than growing them as a supplement to your diet. They are perennial and even if you snap off the root to eat it they will grow back eventually. Here where I live they even make it through the worst winters every year. The plant is also self fertilizing so it does not need to be pollinated. Basically they are sexless.

This is just some Food for thought as it were. Give it a try and see if it would be a viable addition to your survival needs. You could even raise them indoors in one of those herb gardens they advertise on TV. That way you could control the spread of the seeds to your neighbors yard and remain friends. I suggest getting seeds from a plant far from people so that you avoid any pesticides or should I say try to avoid them as much as possible.

Next time you are on some remote trip and see one growing give it a try and you may be surprised at what you taste. Yes I have tried them and they are not bad. Try getting the leaves before they spread out.

As with anything I put on this blog, the info is there for you to do your own research. Do not take my word for it and that of the author who's info I have presented.


  1. Mark, extremely interesting. I am going link this article on my blog: http://thingsthatfizz.blogspot.com/
    along with your link to the Dandelion page.

    Wonderful stuff.


  2. AV thanks for stopping by again. I think the dandelion gets a bad rap mainly by folks who love their lawns. I let them grow and feed them to my Bunnies. They love the flowers. I guess that makes them pretty smart. That kills the Dumb Bunny saying. We have wild rabbits here too and I bet they eat their share. Thanks again Mark