There are still a few hours of Tuesday left, so let me rave on at you about dandelions for a bit.
I must be one of the few gardeners in Melbourne actively trying to increase the dandelion population in my garden, rather than attempting to eradicate them. For a long time my garden was, sadly, entirely dandelion free. Then, amazingly, under the thorny shadow of the climbing rose, a single exemplar of the being Taraxacum officinale appeared. I was delighted, checking on it regularly to see when it would flower (a slow process), and then, just as regularly, and even more eagerly, checking to see if the flower had turned into a puffball of seeds that would populate my already (maybe) overcrowded garden with more of its kind.
The puffball arrived. And THEN A POSSUM ATE IT.
However, a few days later, after listening to me whinge about the possums eating my long awaited dandelion puffball, Cath very sensibly just took a seedhead from the massive dandelion that was growing down the lane (that’s the one in the picture above) and blew the seeds all over the spot where I want them to grow. Now I have lots of dandelion seedlings popping up and I am content.
Just what is so good about dandelion?
You can eat the leaves, which are very bitter, especially as they get older, so the young ones are best in terms of palatabiltiy. They are still quite strong and may take a bit of getting used to (I’ll probably have a rant about why people should include more bitters in their diets at another time). I often pick a few to put in a salad or a sandwich amongst the other greens like rocket; you could also toss them into a soup or cook them in amongst some milder greens like spinach or silverbeet.
Because the roots of dandelion grow so deep into the earth, the leaves are rich in minerals like iron and potassium; you can brew them as a tea, which has tonic and diuretic properties (and since diuretics in general can deplete the body of potassium, dandelion is a particularly good choice).
The root is hepatic, which means it acts on the liver, stimulating its function and aiding the body’s natural detoxification processes. Roasted, the root makes a tasty ‘coffee’ which is delicious on its own or with milk and/or spices.
Dandelion is one of those herbs which bridges the worlds. Its taproots go deep, as I mentioned before, and yet its flower is as pure a representation of the sun as you can find. It is sacred to the Goddess Hekate, the Illuminatrix who also walks between the worlds. The seeds are messengers, and will carry your wishes with them as they take to the air.
So next time you meet a dandelion, honour it; there’s more to it than meets the eye and it has many gifts to share with you!