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The Dandelion

If Covid taught us anything, it is that we have been lied to about many things. One of those things is the dandelion. Growing up we were told it was a weed, but if you study the health benefits of herbs and plants, you will learn it is quite the contrary. The dandelion

does not only offer health benefits to us, it is also beneficial to our gardens.



The name dandelion comes from the French word meaning “lion tooth” due to its serrated-shaped leaves. The Greek scientific name for the dandelion Taraxacum means “inflammation cure.” For millions of years, dandelions have been used medicinally in traditional medicine by Native American, Chinese, and European doctors. They were most likely brought to America on the Mayflower for the medicinal benefits including treating digestive problems, ailments of the liver and kidneys as well as anti-inflammatory properties.


Every part of the dandelion is edible except the stem. The sap from the stem contains latex which can result in an allergic reaction causing diuretic and laxative effects. During the Great Depression, gathering and eating dandelions was standard practice when money and food were scarce as they contain more vitamin A than spinach, more vitamin C than tomatoes, and are loaded with iron, calcium, and potassium. In WWII they even helped sustain an American medic and his patients who were POWs in the Philippines. (When the dandelion went to war: An American Prisoner of War Story)


In the garden, they are beneficial as their roots grow deep and wide helping to loosen and aerate hard soil as well as bring nutrients to the surface soil which many other plants can’t reach. So though they are considered an enemy to lawns, they help grass grow. They also serve as indicators for soil quality as they only appear where needed to fix a problem.


Sometime in the twentieth century, somebody decided the dandelion was a weed. Perhaps it was due to the growing popularity of perfectly manicured lawns. Or maybe it was because dandelions have numerous health benefits and pharmaceutical companies didn’t like the competition? It is surely no coincidence that Bayer, the maker of Roundup that kills dandelions, also makes medications that treat the same ailments dandelions prevent. Just sayin’. That is a deep rabbit hole you can go down.


Anyway…the best thing about the dandelion is they are masters of survival. They can push through concrete and gravel and live in barren habitats. They are humble, beautiful rebels. Be like the dandelion!




Sources:


Indigo, Xan. “The Untold Truth of Dandelions.” Grunge, Grunge, 23 Apr. 2022, www.grunge.com/841689/the-untold-truth-of-dandelions/.

Frank Blazich, April 9. “When the Dandelion Went to War: An American Prisoner of War’s Story.” National Museum of American History, 4 Aug. 2020, americanhistory.si.edu/blog/dandelion.




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