Dandelion – Taraxacum officinale
This “weed” is an often overlooked and under-appreciated plant, except by those few who know the true value of the unassuming yellow blossoms that dot the landscape during warmer months. A native of Europe, Dandelion is one of the most useful, accessible herbs, now naturalized in temperate regions worldwide, and easily spotted alongside paths, woodlands, and completely overtaking entire fields and grasslands. A perennial with a taproot, Dandelion grows around 6-9 inches/15-20 cm in height, spreading to 2 inches/5 cm, and bearing toothed, oblong leaves in basal rosette formation. The flowers appear all summer, a cycle of soft, golden blossoms transforming into the well known delicate spheres of seeds which disperse so easily in the wind.
Harvesting: The fresh leaves can be used as salad greens, earlier in the year for sweeter and later in the year for more bitter. And its yellow flowerheads can be picked continuously once fully open. While the entire plant is edible and beneficial, the root is the most valuable part with the greatest concentration of constituents. It is best harvested in autumn, having a sweeter taste than in springtime when it is more bitter.
Uses: Dandelion is one of the most versatile of herbs, and renowned among herbalists for its effectiveness and safety. All parts of the plant are very gentle and useful, often taken in the form of teas and tinctures, or even simply as a food. The leaves are so nutritious, rich in many minerals and in vitamins, particularly A, B, C, & D. Dandelion is a traditional herb for liver and kidney health, due to its ability to increase bile flow, its diuretic properties, and support to the digestive system. It is also considered to be cleansing to the blood and to have a detoxifying effect throughout the body. The roots can be used as a coffee-substitute, once dried, roasted, and ground into a fine powder.
Actions: Alterative, Cholagogic, Diuretic, Nutritive, Tonic
Taste: Bitter, Sweet, Salty
Energy: Cooling, Drying
Botanical Design: “Medicinal Plants Coloring Book” – Ilil Arbel
I hope you enjoyed this short herbal monograph! Head back to the Herbalism page for more ways to study herbs and their properties, actions, preparations, and traditional use in day-to-day living, or look up a few more herbal mini-monographs and read about another plant in depth.
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