Plant of Week 8: Dandelion
One of the first flowers to arrive in the spring, dandelions are a resilient plant, often popping up in unlikely places like walls and cracks in sidewalks. This quality- along with their ability to quickly spread, and their taproot which is notoriously difficult to dig up- means they are often considered a pesky weed, but dandelions are also a pollinator's best friend. Dandelions are some of the first flowers to bloom- between March and May- and provide an essential food source for bees and other early pollinators. Dandelions get their name from the French dent de lion which means lion's tooth, referring to its jagged, toothed leaves.
Species: Taraxacum officinale
HABITAT: Dandelions can be found in nearly every climate, except arctic regions and very dry deserts. They prefer temperate regions, and grow best in moist areas with direct sunlight.
IS IT EDIBLE? Yes- dandelion leaves and flowers are edible both cooked and raw, and can be added to salads or steeped in honey to make an herbal elixir. The roots can be dried and ground into a tasty substitute for coffee, and the flowers can be used to make wine.
IS IT MEDICINAL? Historically, dandelions have been used to cure warts, fix stomach aches, treat asthma, low blood pressure, and poor circulation, as well as detox the liver and kidneys.