“If you find yourself worrying, go outside, take three breaths, address a tree and quietly say ‘thank you.’ If you can’t find a tree, a dandelion will do … nature is magic.”
— Robert Bateman, Canadian naturalist and painter. (1930-)
We sort of made a deal on the clover patch and areas for dandelions. Sam mowed most of our ever-growing yard while I negotiated clover and dandelion plots. When Sam got the Hustler, he told the seller it took him longer and longer to mow the lawn. The seller said, “You’re probably mowing a larger area. Everyone does that.” Our “yard” looks great, as does my clover — higher than I’ve ever seen and the dandelions more prolific.
The swamp irises lining the pond are as thick as thieves and have started to bloom with their yellow waving flags. The struggles and starkness of winter have made this spring ever so delightful and appreciated. Nature has its own way of healing, and not just visually.
I investigated the healing power of dandelions, not just in their beauty but physically as well. The rabbits clearly enjoy them, flower, leaves and stems, so maybe there’s more to this little innocuous weed. Google says “Common dandelion is an introduced plant in North America. In the mid-1600s, European settlers brought the common dandelion (scientific name, Taraxacum officinale) to eastern America and cultivated it in their gardens for food and medicine. Since then, it has spread across the continent as a weed.” The dandelion actually sailed the ocean on the Mayflower. It’s amazing that of all the things the settlers thought to pack on their transatlantic voyage, it would be a lowly little weed, the dandelion. It was also stated dandelions tend to grow in “disturbed areas” such as burned forests, marshlands, avalanche sites and any elevation from sea level to high mountain sites. On observation I’d add our mowed sites, the Prairie’s clay soil, and even in the cracks of a concrete sidewalk. Hardy little weed, it is.
For the flowers’ edible and medicinal value, dandelions are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Apparently even the rabbits know their benefits. Dandelions contain vitamins A, B, C, K, E and minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium. Birds will feed off their seeds, honey bees draw nectar, and animals other than rabbits forage for flowers, leaves, stems and roots.
The Mayflower settlers bringing the lowly dandelions used the plant for many illnesses such as fevers, boils, eye problems, digestive issues, liver congestion, heartburn, fluid retention and skin rashes, also hepatitis, jaundice and gallstones. The leaves have a diuretic effect which can aid in weight loss, increase cancer fighting antibodies and “buffer glucose levels for diabetics.”
The dandelion is also used for food and drink. All parts of the dandelion then and now can be used in foods, especially salads, beverages — especially wine, tea and coffee. Dandelions can be sautéed as a vegetable; they can be roasted, fried or baked in other prepared dishes.
If the value of consuming dandelions interests you, practice your own due diligence. Check out “Off the Grid with Doug & Stacy” and eat well, get outside, stay healthy.
Email reaches Shannon Bardwell of Columbus at [email protected]