handy dandy dandelion

Hello Spring! Well, sort of. Despite the blanket of snow outside, the gifts of Spring are emerging. A couple of weeks ago I was out in the park with my son and some of our friends. One of the kids excitedly pointed out the unmistakeable golden yellow blossom of the Dandelion. They were all very protective of it, yelling "don't pick it!" while the adults (especially me!) were taking pictures.

Each Spring when the Dandelions bloom I take the time to pick the yellow sun rays and make Dandelion blossom oil (see recipe below) and if I have enough left over I make Dandelion fritters. I always make sure to leave plenty for the bees and other insects. Read on for more about the beautifully humble Dandelion... 

   Taraxacum officinale    Taraxacum, may be derived from the Greek taraxos (disorder), and akos (remedy). Officinale indicates the long history of use as a medicine.

Taraxacum officinale

Taraxacum, may be derived from the Greek taraxos (disorder), and akos (remedy). Officinale indicates the long history of use as a medicine.

 

DANDELION (Taraxacum officinale

Lesson: strong foundation to raise your vibration;
stay the course regardless of circumstances
Offering: purification, digestion, pain relief
Element & planetary affiliation: air, Jupiter, Sun
Energetics: bitter, sweet, dry, cool (root & leaf)

 

Humble warrior
Dandelion is sadly maligned and misunderstood. If only militant gardeners and lawn lovers knew what they were missing when they poisoned this beneficial beauty. This humble plant is tenacious – if you try to rip out dandelion it will only grow back stronger. Dandelion teaches us that to shine brightly, to raise our vibration, we need to have a strong root, a strong foundation. And to not give up regardless of circumstances.

The blossom of the dandelion is like the Great Eastern Sun – radiant, brilliant, awake. The stem, leaves, and root are tender, like the warrior’s heart. When I speak of a warrior, I mean a spiritual warrior. Someone who is confident and clear about where they stand, but also tender and vulnerable, open to the world around them. 

Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche brought the concept of Shambhala Buddhism and Enlightened Society to the West. He endured great hardships to get here. He was forced to leave Tibet when the Chinese communist party took control in 1959. He led a small group of monks on horseback and on foot to escape to India. Often they would trek up a mountain in harsh, snowy conditions to then have to go back the way they came and find a new path. At times their robes were frozen solid with ice and snow. 

Despite being exiled from his homeland, and later experiencing a car accident that left him partially paralyzed, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche maintained his view of the Great Eastern Sun. I see the dandelion as an embodiment of this view. We choose to see the goodness in this humble plant, the goodness that is in all of us. 

ChrisEarleDandelion

Powerful and gentle medicine
Dandelion leaf is full of nutrients – it’s said to have more iron than spinach, and more vitamin A than carrots. It’s also a non-depleting diuretic; unlike pharmaceutical diuretics, dandelion does not deplete the body of essential minerals, like potassium. 

The root is an excellent spring tonic and a liver tonic, stimulating the production of bile and aiding the body in the elimination process. The root also contains inulin, a prebiotic fiber that helps feed beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Solar wonder
My favorite part to use is the blossom. The radiant golden flower has an affinity with the solar plexus. One of my first healing experiences with dandelion blossom was in an herbalism class with Robin Rose Bennett. She was straining off some dandelion blossom and goldenrod oils. At the time I had severe abdominal bloating and pain (I was just figuring out I had a strong gluten sensitivity). When she told the class these blossoms are especially relieving to pain in the solar plexus I jumped out of my seat. I took the oil and massaged my belly – within minutes there was a warm and radiating feeling of relief. 

Wise Woman Herbalist Susun Weed says this about dandelion blossom oil: 

Dandelion has a special affinity for breasts. Regular use of dandelion flower oil promotes deep relaxation of the breast tissues, facilitating the release of held emotions. Applied regularly to the entire breast area, glowing golden dandelion flower oil can strengthen your sense of self worth as well as your immune system. Easily made, this oil is a superb ally for regular breast self-massage, and highly praised by those doing therapeutic breast massage. Dandelion root oil, used alone or in conjunction with the flower oil, can help clear minor infections, relieve impacted milk glands and reduce cysts in the breasts.

I also love to make dandelion blossom fritters – all you do is make a batter, dip them in whole and fry them. Tastes like spring! Ethnobotanist and foraging expert (and friend) Leda Meredith turns the blossoms into wine, and sometimes beer. (Recipe here: http://ledameredith.com/dandelion-beer-recipe/

  Weather predictions    Ancient traditions state that if dandelions stay closed in the morning, it will rain.    If they bloom in April and July, the summer will be wet.    https://peninsulalighthouse.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/plant-lore-acanthus-to-dandelion/

Weather predictions

Ancient traditions state that if dandelions stay closed in the morning, it will rain. 
If they bloom in April and July, the summer will be wet.

https://peninsulalighthouse.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/plant-lore-acanthus-to-dandelion/


MORE ABOUT DANDELION

Constituents and Nutrients
B vitamins; vitamins A, C, E, and K; calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, inulin; flavonoids (luteolin, apigenin, isoquercitrin); caffeic and chlorogenic acid; terpenoids, triterpenes, sesquiterpenes 

Actions
leaf: bitter digestive, potassium-sparing diuretic, tonic
root: alterative, anti-rheumatic, mild aperient, bitter digestive, potassium-sparing diuretic, cholagogue, hepatic
flower: anodyne (topical)

Conditions
acne, arthritis, cirrhosis, constipation, eczema, edema, gout, hepatitis, jaundice, kidney stones, warts (using latex sap)

Distinguishing Features
From a Modern Herbal, by Maud Grieve: “From its thick tap root, dark brown, almost black on the outside though white and milky within, the long jagged leaves rise directly, radiating from it to form a rosette Iying close upon the ground, each leaf being grooved and constructed so that all the rain falling on it is conducted straight to the centre of the rosette and thus to the root which is, therefore, always kept well watered. The maximum amount of water is in this manner directed towards the proper region for utilization by the root, which but for this arrangement would not obtain sufficient moisture, the leaves being spread too close to the ground for the water to penetrate.

The leaves are shiny and without hairs, the margin of each leaf cut into great jagged teeth, either upright or pointing somewhat backwards, and these teeth are themselves cut here and there into lesser teeth. It is this somewhat fanciful resemblance to the canine teeth of a lion that (it is generally assumed) gives the plant its most familiar name of Dandelion, which is a corruption of the French Dent de Lion, an equivalent of this name being found not only in its former specific Latin name Dens leonis and in the Greek name for the genus to which Linnaeus assigned it, Leontodon, but also in nearly all the languages of Europe.”

Botanical-Dandelion

RECIPES

For roots, a decoction
Take a handful of dried roots and place it in one quart of water in a small pot. Gently simmer for 20 minutes. Strain and enjoy.

For leaves, an infusion
Take a handful of herb and place it in a 1-quart jar. Pour boiling water over the herbs, cover, and let steep overnight (or at least 20 minutes). In the morning, strain the herbs and compost them. This is the way I make most leaf and flower infusions. 

Dandelion Greens with Double Garlic
from How to Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman
Makes: 4 servings; Time: 15 minutes

The first measure of garlic mellows as it cooks with the greens; it’s the second that adds a real kick. Substitute minced ginger for the second addition of garlic if you like.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced garlic (5 or 6 cloves), plus
1 teaspoon minced garlic, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound dandelion greens with stems, well washed and roughly chopped
1/2 cup chicken, beef, or vegetable stock
Lemon wedges for serving

1. Put the olive oil in a large, deep saucepan with a lid over medium-high heat. When hot, add the sliced garlic, pepper flakes, and some salt and black pepper and cook for about 1 minute.

2. Add the greens and stock. Cover and cook until the greens are wilted and just tender but still a little firm, about 5 minutes.

3. Uncover the pan and continue to cook, stirring, until the liquid has all but evaporated and the greens are quite tender, at least 5 minutes more. Taste for seasoning and add red or black pepper and salt as needed; add the minced garlic, cook for 1 minute more, and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature, with lemon wedges.

~~~~

Dandelion Blossom (Fridge) Jelly
from Martha Stewart

4 cups water
4 cups dandelion blossoms (yellow and white parts only)
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons ( 1/2 package) powdered pectin
4 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Bring water and dandelion blossoms to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and let stand for 10 minutes. Strain through a fine sieve into a measuring cup, pressing solids. Discard blossoms. (You should have 3 cups of liquid; add water if necessary.)

Combine pectin and 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl. Bring dandelion liquid and remaining 4 cups sugar to a boil, stirring constantly to dissolve sugar. Add the pectin mixture, stirring constantly to dissolve pectin and sugar. Add lemon juice, and boil for 1 minute. Skim foam from the surface. Let cool slightly. Pour mixture into an airtight container. Cover with a lid. Refrigerate until set, about 4 hours. Jelly can be refrigerated in the airtight container for up to  2 weeks.

~~~~

Dandelion Blossom Oil
For topical use only. 

Fill a small jar with dandelion blossoms (just blossoms, no stems). Cover blossoms completely with olive or sesame oil, filling the jar to the top. I like to cover the jar with some muslin or cheesecloth and if it’s a mason jar, just use the ring to close it (or a rubber band). This way the moisture from the blossom can escape, preventing mold from forming in the oil. After 2 to 4 weeks, strain out the blossoms. Use as is or make a salve by melting beeswax (1 part beeswax to 4 parts oil) and mixing in oil over a low heat. Pour into jars or tins. 

Dandelion-Jar

 

Poetry/songs/lore

The First Dandelion
from "Leaves of Grass," by Walt Whitman

Simple and fresh and fair from winter's close emerging,
As if no artifice of fashion, business, politics, had ever been,
Forth from its sunny nook of shelter'd grass--innocent, golden, calm as the dawn,
The spring's first dandelion shows its trustful face.

 

Dandelion Bubbles
From Highlights

"Dandelion" 

Highlights-Dandelion

 

Dandelion
Rolling Stones
(Mick Jagger, Keith Richards)

Prince or pauper, beggar man or thing
Play the game with ev'ry flow'r you bring
Dandelion don't tell no lies
Dandelion will make you wise
Tell me if she laughs or cries
Blow away dandelion

One o'clock, two o'clock, three o'clock, four o'clock chimes
Dandelions don't care about the time
Dandelion don't tell no lies
Dandelion will make you wise
Tell me if she laughs or cries
Blow away dandelion, blow away dandelion

Tho' you're older now its just the same
You can play this dandelion game
When you're finished with your childlike prayers
Well, you know you should wear it

Tinker, tailor, soldier, sailors lives
Rich man, poor man, beautiful, daughters wives
Dandelion don't tell no lies
Dandelion will make you wise
Tell me if she laughs or cries
Blow away dandelion, blow away dandelion

Little girls, and boys come out to play
Bring your dandelions to blow away
Dandelion don't tell no lies
Dandelion will make you wise
Tell me if she laughs or cries
Blow away dandelion, blow away dandelion 

DandelionSeeds

Further Reading

The Eldrum Tree. Dandelion.
http://www.eldrumherbs.co.uk/content/content_files/profiles_dandelion_taraxacum-officinale.php?state=1

Grieve, Maud. A Modern Herbal. Dandelion. 
https://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/d/dandel08.html

 

Image Sources:
1. Liz Neves
2. http://bluesolitaire.deviantart.com/art/Dandelion-Wine-Poem-133773013
3. Liz Neves
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taraxacum_officinale#/media/File:Taraxacum_officinale_-_K%C3%B6hler%E2%80%93s_Medizinal-Pflanzen-135.jpg
5. Liz Neves
6. https://www.highlightskids.com/poetry-player-poems/dandelions
7. Liz Neves