Also known as Taraxacum officinale, the well known yellow Dandelion is considered a weed in most gardens. This plant has actually been an incredible healing and companion plant for centuries. A terrific specimen for anything from skincare products to healthy teas and interesting salads.

Use dandelion in these interesting ways:

A natural medication:Dandelion uses
All parts of the plant can be used as a natural medication.  The most healing properties being in the roots.  The plant is high in  calcium,  iron,  vitamins A,  B,  C and D  chlorine,  protein, and  it is also one of the best sources of natural potassium.
It is a very good natural diuretic,  and will hold existing potassium in the system,  as well as bring the potassium levels up to normal should they be low in the body.  It is one of the best herbs for the liver and as it is  a diuretic it can also help to remove toxins and waste matter from the body.  It can also help relieve the toxins in the body of rheumatism and arthritis.
A cup of dandelion tea is a wonderful spring tonic to help clean out the body after the heavier foods eaten during the winter months.The milky juice stored in the stem of the plant can be applied to blisters to heal them,  and to help take away warts.

Beautify with dandelion:
A mouth wash can help to strengthen tooth enamel.
Simmer some fresh leaves in a stainless steel or enamel pot with the lid n,   for fifteen to twenty minutes.    Switch off the heat and allow to come to room temperature.  This is when the strengths of the plants are extracted.  Put through a plastic strainer and add this water to your bath water as a skin wash for itches and rashes.   These leaves cannot be reused,  they now belong on the compost heap. It can also be used as a facial wash for pimples and blemishes.

DandelionDandelion facial mask recipe:
Herb tea.  When making a cup of herb tea from fresh or dried leaves,  this is called a tisane.  If using fresh then the equivalent of two level teaspoons is all that is needed.  Or half the quantity of the dried herb.  Pouring boiling water straight from the kettle can also interfere with the working  and healing properties of the plant.  It is far better to boil the water,  allow it to stand in the kettle for 2 to 5 minutes,  and then pour it over the plant material in the cup.  Stir and allow to stand for about two minutes.  Then remove the plant.  If there are droplets of plant oils floating on top,  that means it is possibly too strong, and should be diluted with more water.  Milk and sugar are never added to herb teas.  Only ever pure honey if a sweetener is required.   Then it is very important to sit down comfortably and enjoy your cup of tea.  This is when it works the very best.

Make a dandelion tea:
If making a cup of tea from the fresh or dried root,  again the quantity for the dried will be half the quantity as for the fresh,  and the powdered herb will be even less. This is then called a decoction.  The herb is put into an enamel,  glass or stainless  and cold water is added.  Then it is best to allow this to stand overnight and then this is brought slowly to the boil,  and simmered as given above.  Again allowing to cool extracts the maximum properties from the plant material.   Strain and drink as given above.  It is  hardly ever necessary to have more than one cup  of any herbal  tea a day.

Culinary uses of dandelion:
Use young dandelion leaves in salads.

picking-dandelionHarvesting Dandelion:
Harvesting of the root for use is best in autumn after an entire season of growth.  The leaves can be harvesting and used fresh or dried throughout the year.  It is extremely important to note that no chemicals are to be used in the garden if herb plants are going to be used internally or externally.  I use dandelion to make and use natural herbal remedies and also  for companion planting.  My garden is a haven for the birds, bees,  butterflies,  lady birds,  dragon flies and geckos.

Identifying Dandelion:
It is also used to make Dandelion wine.   It was called lion’s tooth in French  because of the deeply toothed margins on the leaves.The tap root is large and fleshy with a white interior.  The long leaves are lance shaped and deeply indented and form a rosette around the base of the plant.  There is a single stem on which the yellow daisy flower appears,  on dying off this then forms a puff ball of seeds which are easily spread by the wind.  It is a hardy perennial and can reach a height of 600 mm.  To use the plant at its  best,  dig up those growing in the grass and plant in a prepared bed with old compost.  Those leaves harvested from amongst the grass will have a more bitter taste  This is due to the strong tap root drawing nutrients from its surroundings.  The younger leaves are also tastier than the older ones.  Dandelion nectar is loved by the bees and also the ladybirds.  As the leaves grow so close to the ground this plant is not really attacked by insects.  Dandelion requires a nutritional soil and adequate water.  This plant is not to be confused with wild thistles.  The best identifying factor is that there are no leaves at all growing up the flowering stem.

Interesting facts:
Gypsies of old used both the roots and the leaves to make a yellow dye.
Dandelion is commonly known as Perdeblom in Afrikaans.
Dandelion belongs to the Compositae plant family.

 

Article contributed by:
Patsy Vergeer from patsy’s potions and the herb and indigenous plant guild.
Visit her here.
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