As spring starts to unfurl in mid April, the farm is slowly stretching her tendrils wide to soak up the sunshine that the longer days bring. The red-winged blackbird has carried its beautiful song back to us as it begins to nest by the pond, and the trees are budding with the promise of the fruits yet to come. The plants and flowers have begun pushing up through the soil, gracing us with their beauty after their long winter slumber. One of the first medicinal wild flowers to pop up in our gardens in spring is dandelion.
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) seems to explode overnight across the fields and hillsides, bringing a burst of sunshine with its bright yellow blossoms, and delight with its fairy-like seed heads.
The plant gets its name from the French phrase ‘dent de lion’, which means ‘tooth of the lion’, and although this refers to the shape of its leaves, it could also speak to the powerful medicine packed in this small but mighty weed.
Dandelions in the Kitchen
In addition to feeding almost a hundred different insects and pollinators, dandelion is extremely rich in nutrients including vitamins A, B, C, and D, as well as minerals, such as iron, potassium, and zinc.
The roots, wild harvested in spring and fall, make a delicious coffee alternative, while the leaves can be added to pestos, salads and soups, and the flowers can be made into fritters or syrup. The leaves and flowers can be harvested throughout the season, but will be more tender and taste less bitter in the spring.
The Medicine of Dandelions
Dandelion has a cooling and drying effect on the body and a bitter taste. It acts as a gentle yet powerful tonic bitter for the digestive system, aiding in the secretion of digestive juices, enzymes, and stomach acid, helping your body to break down and absorb nutrients.
It also moves stagnation in the liver by stimulating the production of bile, and aids in stabilizing reproductive hormone imbalances due to a sluggish liver. By helping the body to eliminate waste, it can also help to clear skin conditions such as acne and eczema. The leaves act as a diuretic, helping the body to produce urine and get rid of excess fluids.
Not only does dandelion work to cleanse and strengthen the body, it also offers the same medicine to the earth. The plants bring nutrients from deep below through their long tap roots to the surface, building healthy soil and nourishing the other plants around it. They often show up and thrive in places where other plants would struggle to grow, loosening compacted soil and balancing nutrients.
If you’ve ever seen a dandelion pushing up through the cracks in pavement, or scattered across a barren patch of yard, you can see how their tenacity and resilience can help us be strong and healthy in our own bodies as well.
Dandelions at Raven Crest
Dandelion root and leaf come together with burdock root, fennel seeds, nettle leaf, and milk thistle in our Detox Formula. This is a great blend to use as we transition into spring, helping to release and cleanse the body and eliminate toxins. This is a wonderful ally to help you let go of what no longer serves you and step into sunnier days.
This beautiful vibrant plant offers itself to so many other healing ways in food, medicine, drinks and dessert. Check out our dandelion fritters recipe as well, it's a spring staple here at Raven Crest.
If you have had a "weedy" relationship with dandelion in the past, embrace the sunny flower this spring. Make sure you harvest only where no pesticides have been sprayed. If you feel the urge to weed it in your garden, make sure you tincture some of the root as a digestive bitter and liver tonic and add the young leaves to a pesto, salad or soup.
There is delicious and nutritious food growing right in the middle of your lawn, asking to be harvested.
Happy Spring! 🤗