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You either love or hate Taraxacum officinale, the Common Dandelion. The whole plant is medicinal and edible. Its long taproot breaks up hard, compact soils and brings deep nutrients to the surface where other plants can benefit. As an early flowering plant, it’s an important food source for bees and other pollinators when few other plants are flowering. It’s so nutritious, you could live on it for a good while if that’s all you could find to eat. I could go on and on about Dandelion!
When spring is near, I often go out into the yard to spot the very first Dandelion flower to open. It’s kind of an awakening ritual that brings assurance that warmer days are coming! Not hard to find since over the past few years I’ve scattered over 30,000 Dandelion seeds around our yard!
Collection of Dandelion seeds is easy. When the flower changes to the mature puffy seed head that kids love to blow into the wind and they are dry from any moisture, I take a bic lighter and just touch the flame to the edge of the umbrellas that take the seeds up to many miles away. The flame will not harm the seeds but will instantly burn away all the umbrellas, leaving the seeds attached to the stalk. Then they are easily rubbed off into a container for storage or sowing.
Dandelion flowers are an important addition to my Super Tea for Super Smoothies when they are available to forage and are dried to use throughout the year. Starwest Botanicals has leaf and root preparations if you don’t have any growing locally. The only undesirable thing to me about Dandelion Flowers was the harvesting of them. It kills my back and legs, bending over for long periods of time to pick them off the stalks. So I conjured up a helpful device you can easily make from a recycled plastic gallon Lipton Tea Jug.
A portion of the jug sidewall was cut out, tapering to this narrow channel at the jug bottom. The dandelion stem fits into this channel, directly underneath the flower.
A desirable length of 1″ Schedule 40 PVC pipe is inserted into the top of the jug. It’s a very snug fit that doesn’t require any adhesive, so far. Now I can happily walk around and easily pop off Dandelion Flowers all day if I want to, without any back or leg strain. It’s very lightweight and quick to get the hang of using it efficiently. When one is popped off, it is collected in the jug and will stay until all the collected flowers need to be emptied into a bag or whatever you carry along.
Dandelions leaves are also very nutritious, though somewhat bitter tasting by themselves. It’s best to harvest them while young and tender. These leaves are shown growing in a livestock mineral tub intensive planting, like one might sow seeds for microgreens, a lot of them in a small area. Since they are so close, they hold each other up and out of the dirt for clean harvesting.
When foraging for Dandelion flowers and/or leaves, make sure the area has not been treated with any type of herbicide or insecticide sprays or granules. Get them a good distance from roads or any industrial area. You can learn more about the therapeutic and dietary uses for Dandelion by searching Google results for “Taraxacum officinale PubMed”.
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