It’s Weed Appreciation Day! Unless you use chemicals on your yard, you’ve probably got a few useful ones. My yard includes Plantain, Nettle, Chickweed and … Dandelion.
I love Dandelions, and not just because I used to blow on them to make a wish as a kid. I cherish the ones growing in my yard and even help myself to the ones in my neighbors’ yards. They don’t like them, I do. Freebies are always good.
Depending on where you are, yours haven’t come up, yet; they’re just starting to flower; or they’ve already gone to seed. If you get them before they flower, the leaves are very tender and make a great addition to your dinner salad. Or for a nice spring tonic, make an infusion (2 teaspoons fresh leaves to one cup just-boiled water; steep for 10 minutes, strain) and drink that once or twice a day.
If yours haven’t put up a stalk, yet, now is a good time to harvest the root. You should be able to recognize them in your yard by the toothed leaves. If you’ve got stalks or even flowers, wait until fall to harvest the root.
Dandelions are chock-full of goodness. Besides being a great diuretic, the leaves are one of the best natural sources of potassium. A diuretic drug will rob your body of potassium but since dandelions have a lot of it, there’s no danger. It’s also wonderful as a liver and gallbladder tonic; and can be very effective as part of a wider treatment for muscular rheumatism. Because it affects so many of our internal organs, it’s great to “flush” your system after a long winter.
(As with any plant, please be sure you harvest at least 50 feet away from the road to lessen the car exhaust toxins in the plant.)
So, instead of bemoaning all those yellow flowers in your yard, celebrate them! One note of caution: if you have sensitive skin, wear gloves when harvesting. Inevitably you’re going to come into contact with the latex (sap) in the stem and some people end up with contact dermatitis.