It was my habit to always make a wish and then blow the seeds from the head of the dandelion as I pulled them. Little did I know at the time that I was propagating the hated weed and thereby assuring myself future financial gain.
The dreaded weed of the suburban American yard is considered by much of the rest of the world to be a delicacy to be savored in salads and teas as well a natural remedy for many ails.
Although know much earlier in Chinese medicine, the dandelion was first recognized in Europe in the 10th or 11th century, through the influence of Arabian physicians, then prominent as medical authorities. The name, dandelion, comes from the French dent de lion, lion's tooth.
A perennial plant which grows on a taproot up to 30 cm (1 foot) long, it has a basal rosette of leaves and yellow, solitary flowers followed by spherical, fluffy seed heads. Native to Europe and Asia, it occurs widely in temperate regions of the world, and is often found on nitrogen rich soils. Dandelion grows in profusion in the wild and self-seeds. Cultivated dandelions are grown in moist, fertile soil and are propagated from seed.
Medicinal - An effective diuretic, it is taken internally for urinary infections and diseases of the liver and gall bladder. Considered beneficial for rheumatic complaints and gout. It is also said to improve appetite and digestion. Dandelion is of great benefit nutritionally, it is high in vitamins A and C and a rich source of iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
Culinary - Young leave can be added to salads, often blanched first in order to reduce bitterness, or cooked, like spinach, as a vegetable. The flower can be made into wine. The roasted root makes a palatable, soothing, caffeine-free substitute for coffee.
This is an amazing plant that continues to be scorned by mainstream America. Do yourself a favor; grow, or forage for, some dandelion and add this flavorful specimen to your diet.